Students, faculty, staff locked out of room where it happens

Andrew Henderson

On Thursday, students, faculty and staff had a space to ask questions to the Administrative Council and the department of human resources in regards to the plan for the upcoming budget reductions announced the day prior.

The atmosphere for the forum was a mix between tense and jovial as President Gary Ransdell heartily encouraged attendees to move down closer to the stage in the Downing Student Union auditorium in order to “make this a little more intimate” before the forum began.

Ransdell thanked everyone for showing up on such late notice, and I would have to agree. Sending an email to faculty and staff to inform them of an open forum regarding the budget cuts the day you’ve already announced said cuts seems mismatched. 

It’s like when your parents ask six-year-old you where you want to go for vacation. They probably won’t take your opinion into consideration, but they can at least say they listened to you.

Moreover, it seems the forum wasn’t meant to be attended by students. One of the attendees publicly said they were shocked to see so many students in attendance. I was as well, despite how vital students are at our university.

Student tuition and fees make up 49.2 percent of WKU’s operating budget, according to executive summary of the 2015-16 budget. Of course, this number is largely due to the decline in state appropriations public universities have received over the years.

This means you own 50 percent of DSU, the “Gary” in Ransdell Hall, the unidentifiable statue in Centennial Mall and so many other things.

If you’re not going to claim at least one half of the statues on campus, then the other thing you should be doing is voicing your opinion on these cuts, because they’re not quite finalized.

Public universities in Kentucky are all facing hardships thanks to Twitter addict and semi-professional film director Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bevin’s already done what he thought was needed in order to balance the state budget, and whether or not you agree with how he handled the situation, it’s a bit too late to be upset. We only have ourselves, and the 69.3 percent of Kentuckians who didn’t vote in the gubernatorial election last November, to blame.

The moment for students to express dissent against Bevin’s cuts to higher education has come and gone. The cuts are coming and they’re being handled by universities in different and difficult ways, and I recognize this has not been an easy process for the administration here at WKU.

However, I’ll be honest, as a student of WKU, I was saddened to hear how administrators responded to some student questions.

When a student asked about a class she needed to take in order to graduate on time which had been suddenly canceled, the appropriate response to that question from Provost David Lee should not have been to solicit ideas about what she thinks they should do.

Nor should the appropriate response to questions about diversity and the consolidation of the Institute of Citizenship and Social Responsibility and the ALIVE Center be met with the seemingly random appearance of Lynne Holland, chief diversity officer, at Thursday’s forum.

What Holland said at the forum truly resonated with me. She pleaded with students to trust the administration, but said the forum was not the appropriate time to voice the kinds of concerns that were being raised.

When is the appropriate time? Will there be another forum? Or is it just too late?

Certainly it can be said students, faculty and staff had their concerns heard and questions supposedly answered, but does any of that really matter when we never had a say in what was traded away to begin with? 

Moving forward at WKU, I don’t think students, faculty or staff should necessarily throw in the towel. 

Yes, Bevin’s cuts are finalized, but how the university handles them doesn’t have to be. At the very least I would encourage everyone to voice an opinion on these cuts, and opinions that don’t have to be constrained by an “open” forum.