Our view: Forum, or for us?

DKS Editors

Summary: We’d like to see a more active, personal outreach from the administration as a historic search is underway.

Admittedly, many students might not care what goes on inside the president’s office on a daily basis. That seems to be the justification for leaving them with nothing but an online survey and an open forum they could not attend.

It’s hard to quantify something like “involvement” or “disconnect,” but that’s what some student leaders have made clear to the Stater. The symptoms of disconnect are widespread among the largest student groups, it seems, because they already feel it.

The reason why they feel such disconnect is found in the way the school is conducting the presidential search. In a broad survey of some of the most influential student groups on campus, the Stater found that despite insistent promises to reach out to students, it appears it hasn’t. Despite saying that the committee was “meeting with student groups on campus,” it only met with Undergraduate Student Government. Despite promises to “hold forums during the months of August and September,” it’s only held one — before students arrived on campus.

The search for a new president should be an exciting time that encourages debate and reflection. What does the position mean to students? How have the last seven years been under Lester Lefton? What should stay the same, and what shouldn’t?

For students, Lefton’s tenure ushered in drastic change, such as the Esplanade that now bears his name, but he also left much uncertainty about the future with much more bricks-and-mortar still to be laid. Should the next president let the school simply run, or should he or she initiate even more change?

What are the top academic priorities of 2014?

These are meaningful ways to think about the presidential search from a student’s perspective, and the time is now to ask these questions. Once the next president is chosen, you won’t have nearly as much of a chance to air your concerns. Much of what the president does, whether you realize it or not, affects you.

There is no excuse for the committee virtually ignoring student groups and funneling their thoughts through one person, Amish Patel, and one survey online.

While we absolutely encourage students to send thoughts online, the committee needs to come halfway and do more to hear feedback in person. We’d like to see an active, personal outreach for once. We want the committee to actually hold open forums at a time convenient to students and advertise it. Don’t just talk to Undergraduate Student Government, which is already represented on the committee — get outside of your comfort zone.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.