The search for a new Shippensburg University president reached one of its final stops last week, as each of the final four candidates made their way to SU to spend a day on campus.
The candidates had a private luncheon, met with faculty, the president’s cabinet, the executive management team, and — oh yeah — the students.
If you hadn’t heard about it, don’t worry, many of us did not either. The administration’s outreach to students was minimal at best. We received an email notifying us of the visits approximately five days before the event, with little to no information about the candidates. Then, we received an email asking us to fill out a survey after the candidates’ events were over.
There was no outreach to student media for potential interviews, very little advertising of the events and no
encouragement or incentive for students to show up. You might say that students should be willing to participate in the process on their own volition, exercising personal responsibility, but most of the student centric sessions were held while classes were in session, during the busiest time of the semester.
The whole thing felt like little more than lip service to the students. The Slate’s Jenna Wise attended the open forums that were scheduled for staff, faculty and students, but mentioned that she was either the only student in attendance, or one of few. She also mentioned that she was not aware of the difference between the open forum, and the student information session which was scheduled three hours prior to that event.
One candidate mentioned to her that the events were for her, the student. But seeing as Wise was
the only student in attendance, the forums were dominated by faculty, whose interests in the matter may not always be in line with students.
It seems the administration wants students to be involved in the search for a new president, but how can that actually come to fruition when students either don’t know about the event, or can’t attend for scheduling conflicts? We’ll never be able to tell a candidates’ stance on a certain is- sue that may be important to us, like whether or not they support employee unions. We’d consider that pretty important considering how, just last semester, the state system faculty went on strike to preserve the quality of our education.
The level of anonymity the candidates were afforded was excessive, as well. The candidates’ names were not posted until two days prior to their visit to campus. We understand the
candidates should be afforded some level of anonymity to protect their current jobs, but is our opinion that if they are a top-four candidate and their name is going to be released anyway, then we the students should be afforded more time to research about them beyond the biography posted on SU’s website.
Furthermore, how can a candidate familiarize themselves with the campus and its culture in merely one day? A day, mind you, that is spent meeting and dining with big players at the university or the faculty. There are so many nuances that make a campus and its community what it is. There is no way a candidate can soak all this in when they are constantly being shepherded from one event to another.
Overall, it’s sad to think that, as one of the groups affected by this decision most, we had little to no say
in the matter. We hope those in the administration consider these things more closely the next time an import- ant search like this is being conduct- ed. Aside from the state system, we the students are the cash cow that keeps this operation in business. The administration should be bending over backward to ensure that we have our say in the process.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and are not representative of The Slate or its staff as a whole.