By ASHLIE DAVIS
Since the arrival of “the 27” on our radar, Georgetown has been a-buzz about the selection of a new president. It became a social experiment of sorts with students and faculty building a franken-president with a laundry list of outstanding qualities. Will the new President change the drinking policy? Will he come from a religious or academic background? Will he be a she? There were so many ideas bouncing around, and it seemed to the inhabitants of Georgetown College that there would be some opportunity for the atmosphere to change.
However, the announcement of the Presidential Selection Committee left students and faculty thinking a unanimous and resounding, “Huh!?” The announcement, which took the form of a press release, informed us all who our representation would be, and that was where the communication ended. There was no information about how we could contact our representation to give suggestions or concerns, and there were no details concerning the selection process. This is one of what I assume are many red flags about the direction of the college.
What this communicates is one thing: students, faculty and staff are not seen as stakeholders within this institution. Our opinions were not sought after, our voices were not heard and once again those in power failed to see an issue with this. But isn’t this strange? What would happen to Georgetown without the staff? Without the staff, we would have no one to take the board’s important phone calls, no one to ensure the safety of the students and no one whose job it is to maintain the structure of our school. What about faculty? Without our faculty, what little retention we have would plummet, there would be no one to guide students in career and academic endeavors and there would be no education to speak of. And then there is the most easily silenced—the students. Without the students, there would be no purpose for faculty, staff or the Board of Trustees; there would be no alumni and the only source of income would be donations. Perhaps this is something that should have been considered before selecting the Presidential Search Committee and sending out a press release.
The students have expressed their concern about this, not necessarily because of the choice in representation, but because of the manner in which our representation was chosen. There was no nomination, no vote and certainly no voice. In an attempt to voice their concerns and compile a list of qualities they hope to see in the next president, students (guided by staff and faculty) participated in three forums which accomplished just that. Since this arrangement, the Presidential Selection Committee has sent an email requesting the students come and speak with them about these qualities. While their email exclaimed that they are “adamant and excited about listening to the voices of the entire community,” only time will tell if Board Members share that desire and if those requests will be heard.
While nothing about this presidential selection can be certain, I think that it is clear the students want their voices heard. However, I think it is also obvious that we will meet opposition each step of the way.