It’s become a reoccurring theme among people in power and I really hate to see it become the norm.
But lately, it seems, the common response to significant conflicts at universities everywhere is radio silence from administrators.
Now, I have never been in an administrative position and had the weight of responsibility of an entire institution on my shoulders, but I do know what it looks like to student bodies when their administration has little to no response to a campus-wide issue.
It looks like they don’t give a sh-t.
An example of this beyond Ferris is displayed in Michigan State University’s response to the Nassar trials last year. It took far too long for their president to step down after it was painfully clear there was negligence on the university’s part in letting Nassar practice.
There were very few comments from former president Lou Anna Simon at the hearings—which she stopped attending early on—and she never offered an apology or took responsibility for any of the mistakes made by those she was directly in charge of. Understandably, many of the survivors were upset and felt as though the former president did not care about them or care if Nassar was brought to justice. This is just one instance.
When administrators decline to comment on issues that negatively affect their students, it shows an unwillingness to be transparent. And that, my friends, is a red flag in any situation. To me, being open and willing to communicate is one of the most important qualities of any relationship, whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, boss to employee, etc. If you cannot effectively communicate, in good situations or bad, it is unlikely you will have a positive relationship. Seeing those in positions of power setting such a poor example of communication is disheartening to me. Students reading over and over that administrators “declined to comment” sends such a negative message to them.
As a journalist, it’s incredibly frustrating to me when I cannot represent both sides to a story. I want to be fair to my readers and give both sides a chance to voice their opinion, but I have been continually forced by administrators to leave their side without comment when serious university-wide issues occur.
As a university administrator, you cannot, in good conscience, refuse to use your voice to inform and give insight on significant events or issues that affect nearly everyone at your university. So that begs the question: why has silence become the standard?