Our view: A cautionary yes

Editorial Board

President Lester Lefton stood on the Kiva podium to say “yes” during his fourth annual State of the University address yesterday.

No, he didn’t announce any groundbreaking university initiatives the community has come to expect in the wake of his first three agenda-setting speeches.

This year was different. He said so himself: “Now is not the time to tackle major new initiatives. We will be challenged enough as we face realities related to significant cutbacks in state funding and an investment portfolio that was not immune to the ravages of the last year.”

Yes, we agree. It’s a good time to wrap up already-begun initiatives, such as Liberal Education Requirement reform.

As a public university, Kent State is a slave to the state budget – a budget whose future remains unsettlingly unclear. After all, Ohio already repealed its tuition freeze to make up for budget shortfalls.

Instead, Lefton urged the university community to make this the “year of yes” by cutting bureaucratic red tape to ease students’ experiences at Kent State. To do so, faculty and staff must put “yes” in their daily mindset.

That’s good news for us, but only if the university listens to our concerns and takes action via the “excellence in action” style.

As students, we know firsthand the pain of waiting forever in line at a university office only to be redirected somewhere else. We know the difficulty of trying to squeeze time in with – not all – but some professors. And, above all, we know the agony of ensuring our LER and major classes are lined up correctly for graduation.

Lefton encouraged all university members – students and staff alike – to “generate ideas for making Kent State more user-friendly.”

That’s a noble call to action with one missing link: How do we give our feedback? Given the red tape issue, we certainly can’t expect ideas to make it up the ladder by voicing our concerns to just anyone on campus. That might work for small annoyances, but not larger issues bound to affect more than one student. The larger concerns will be lost in translation for sure.

Tell us how best to give feedback. We need a simple, non-bureaucratic way to say, “Hey, Kent State should really think about fixing.” Otherwise, execution of the “year of yes” will be impossible.

As the old saying goes, you can’t fix what’s not broken. We all know there are things broken at Kent State. But the university won’t be able to fix them if it doesn’t know the problems exist.

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