Being vocal

I recently wrote an opinion article for my university student-run newspaper and would like to share it here because I enjoyed writing it and am satisfied with the way it turned out. The article was published unedited in its content. The editor corrected some minor grammar errors and switched up the paragraph breaks. (Apparently journalists like short paragraphs. I never knew that.)

Background information for my non-Kent State friends:

1. The Kent State Board of Trustees voted on a new charge of 440 dollars for every extra credit hour a student takes beyond 17 credit hours beginning the 2012 – 2013 school year (16 credit hours beginning 2013 – 2014).

2. There has been an online petition against it, a physical petition and at least 2 physical protests organized by students so far.

3. Lefton is Kent State University’s President.

Lefton shouldn’t stay quiet on per-credit-hour fee

It’s been a little more than two weeks since students became aware of the new per-credit-hour fee, which sparked an online petition, a physical petition and a series of physical protests. Since then, a steady stream of articles have emerged in local newspapers and the Stater responding to this issue. We have seen how our tuition figures match up with other public universities in Ohio and heard the reasoning behind this new fee.

I am grateful that much has been done to shed light on this issue so that students may get their facts right and form their opinions. However, I am disappointed with the way the university has officially handled this issue.

First off, I am disappointed by the severe lack of communication between the university and the student body. To my awareness, the university did not release an official announcement until after protests sparked all over campus.

If they did, it was an ineffective means of announcement, which did not reach out to us. Kent State’s response to students’ violent protests thus far has been justifying their actions.

Look, we are doing this because of this. Look, other universities are doing it too. Look, we are not the bad guys. Look, there is no other choice.

Students are not going to readily accept these justifications. We are students. We are poor. We want to excel. And sometimes the immediacy of these facts cloud our judgment and our instantaneous reaction is purely emotional and not well thought out.

But we are adults who are able to move past that, contemplate issues with maturity and we want to be treated like capable adults. We do not want to be treated as cash cows, as a mere means for the university to be bigger and better according to their standards.

We want to know the university truly cares. That is where true value lies.

These justifications are cold and meaningless to us because all we have heard thus far is talk of renovations, improvements and quality vs. quantity. While the intention of these reasons is for it to come across as the university’s concern for quality education, their lack of good communication with the students and the handling of the protests certainly do not reflect that.

These justifications simply translate into “We are going to build a bigger and better institution without giving a crap about the students’ voices.”

The responses that we have seen have only been, “This is the way it’s going to be. Deal with it.” The university is being carried out like a business, not as an institution with a genuine concern for academic excellence, which goes far beyond renovations and a growth in student population.

I appreciate the university administration such as Provost Todd Diacon and senior vice president of finance and administration Gregg Floyd who have responded to the students’ voices.

What I am waiting for now is a response from President Lefton, who thus far has only briefly addressed the Faculty Senate on this issue. Dr. Lefton, where is your response to the student body’s protests? Silence is a response that only showcases cowardice and disdain.

Step up and show that you care. Be humble, honest and transparent. Otherwise we will simply continue to teem in frustration and anger as we see our tuition money being put into the hefty salary and bonuses that you already receive.

And the adverse consequences of that are extremely immediate.



2 thoughts on “Being vocal

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