The President’s Report: Aug. 31, 2016

Zack Thomas, Student Body President

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H

ello, my fellow OU students!

Thank you for joining me for this back to school edition of the President’s Report. Your Student Congress and I have been hard at work since last writing, and I have plenty to report.

Since the last article, much of our efforts were directed to working with President Hynd and V.P. McIntosh in resolving a host of issues. Student Body Vice President Anders Engnell and I met with President Hynd and V.P. McIntosh on Monday, Aug. 15. In the meeting, we discussed several very important topics related to administrative transparency and accountability, and the general well-being of the student body.

The first, and arguably most important of these topics, was the Winter College and Board of Trustees Retreat ­— we brought our petition with nearly 1,500 OU affiliated individual signatures and additional testimonies to their attention — they had already known about it. We went into the meeting with the goal of advising and persuading — and in my honest opinion I would say it went well. President Hynd responded to us that although there is a clear distinction between the Winter College and the BOT retreat (President Hynd does not supervise the BOT, quite the opposite), he responded that there would be a significantly downsized Winter College this year, presumably due to the overwhelmingly negative student, faculty and press responses. He additionally stated that there would be a communication to OU affiliates for the sake of transparency about the Winter College this year. Anders and I were satisfied on this point: President Hynd, the leader of the administration, is making real efforts to respond to student input to downsize the costs of the event, which was the primary goal of our petitioning efforts.

We additionally discussed the negative implications of “administrative bloating,” or hiring administrators with high salaries left and right despite some of the other university’s needs, which President Hynd acknowledged as a problem.

However, the meeting was not all negatively inclined – Anders and I were very appreciative of many of the administration’s recent positive, pro-student collaborative actions over the summer, including, but not limited to:

  1. Raising the University’s minimum wage to $9.25 from $8.50 (well above the state minimum)
  2. Instituting Preferred Name and Tuition Equality policies
  3. Enhancing accessibility on-campus through several projects and repairs

. . . and many more, based upon the student input that your representatives of the University Student Congress provided! Anders and I made sure to express our gratitude on behalf of the student body for those items. We then further discussed  student-administration collaboration throughout the year to increase transparency and the student-administration connection, such as Town Halls/Open Forums where concerned students may speak to President Hynd (and other administrators) directly!

As always, Anders and I, and YOUR University Student Congress is working for you. For more of our recent actions and successes, you can contact us at [email protected], or stop on by at our office in the basement of the OC anytime!

Sincerely,

Zack Thomas