COMMENTARY: Better communication needed during DUC renovations

Adam Salman

In Tuesday’s article about ICSR keeping its space, it was stated multiple times that the administration did not make their decisions about relocating DUC offices very clear to the public, not even to those directly involved in the process. It seems to me that the administration has gotten carried away, focusing on a finished product (a remodeled building) that is still two years away, instead of paying attention to problems that need solving now.

When the DUC renovations were first proposed, the administration went to great lengths to obtain student input though SGA meetings, open forums, and the tables and comment boards that littered the main floor of DUC asking for opinions. In that stage, WKU leaders made it clear that they wanted to make sure that the renovations were in the students’ best interests.

Where has that interest gone now that we’ve moved past planning and are starting to run into real, tangible issues? Students are actively reaching out, contacting as many people within WKU’s infrastructure as possible, including the president himself, trying to determine their fate for the next two years (many of them upperclassmen, who are paying fees and undertaking huge inconveniences for a building they’ll never get to use), and members of the administrative staff still think that it’s acceptable to contact other administrators and “leave it at that”?

The very first line of the WKU Mission Statement is “Western Kentucky University prepares students to be productive, engaged, and socially responsible citizen leaders of a global society.” How can WKU students lead a global society if they have trouble getting responses from the administration of their own university? Transparency is the key to social responsibility, which WKU claims is their very reason for existing, and yet it takes students weeks to learn about very basic and important decisions made by staff who work daily with students.

I’m trying to sympathize. I really am. The timelines are short, the deadlines close, and there are literally hundreds of variables to consider, but the single-mindedness with which the administration is pursuing the renovations reminds me more of a despotic autocracy building itself a new palace to show off than a democracy that is interested in better serving its constituents.

The relocation of DUC offices doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, where some groups “win” and others “lose.” We can all benefit from new, shared spaces where collaboration and communication become easier. I don’t believe that we should be fighting over who “wins” a space when the goal is to better the university experience for all 21,000 WKU students.

The closed nature of the decisions being made about the relocations aren’t in the spirit of WKU, “A Leading American University.” It makes me wonder if I want WKU to be a benchmark for other universities  — to lead them — if the university can’t be bothered to keep its students informed of the inner functioning of policies that very actively affect them.