Staff Editorial: CSICS should strive for transparency in controversy

Editorial for the May 20, 2010 issue.

Chimes Staff, Writer

Tensions within the Cook School of Intercultural Studies have been brought to light in recent weeks by the event of a student town hall, letters to administration and the use of social media. Reactions to recent restructuring, changes in staff and the overall direction of the department have elicited strong reactions from many sides. But recent discrepancies illuminate another issue — a lack of communication.

It is a lack of communication that students on all fronts have acknowledged, despite their opinions of the department’s direction and other recent changes. Now is a confusing time for CSICS. But confusion only demands a greater need for communication. It is a problem that any student involved in CSICS could be unaware of the school’s restructuring. It is a problem that some students have felt belittled in their concerns. It is a problem that administration has expressed no immediate plans for addressing student concerns.

Any tensions that have arisen in recent years have only been escalated by a perceived lack of transparency. We understand that many personnel matters are clearly beyond the realm of public discussion. We empathize with expressions from CSICS deans Doug Pennoyer and Doug Hayward that they wish they could explain more to students. But when students pay almost 30 thousand dollars a year for their education, they deserve as much clarity as possible regarding how that education is administered.

We echo the urging of junior Brian S., co-chair of the Undergrad Representative Council, that those in leadership “push the envelope” and inform students as much as possible, however uncomfortable that may be. We urge the administration to host more discussions so students can voice their concerns and disagreements, as well as points of agreement.

Finally, regarding recent changes, we urge students to have patience. Transitions both in structure and in personnel are confusing times, and call for grace.
Tensions and wounds are painful to acknowledge, and much more, to examine. But ignoring them can only deepen them. Achieving unity inevitably means addressing discord first.

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