Actions speak louder than words, especially for a university

Actions speak louder than words, especially for a university

By Editors

We have been known to write positive editorials on OU. We have been known to support our school. Many members of our staff love OU and the things it has tried and will try to do.

That does not mean we are blind. It does not mean we are immune to the lack of transparency and fairness that still shadows much of the university’s actions, as evidenced by the Board of Trustees’ most recent behavior (see page 8).

In 2014-15 we featured a fair amount of coverage on a presidential search that was closed off the to public and lacking of any real transparency. The way the search was handled was upsetting and insulting to many of OU’s community members. In July 2014 George W. Hynd was selected to become OU’s sixth president.

He came in preaching honesty and communication and community, and it felt good. He told us the priority rests on the students, the lifeblood of this university. “Finally,” we thought. “Finally, the president acknowledges that we matter.”

Yet now we feel as if our hope and good will has been betrayed. Annie Meinberg, senior student and previous Student Body President, now serves as the student liason to the Board, representing OU’s student body in every way possible. She said she and only three other student leaders were invited to discuss the tuition increase one day prior to the Board’s session.

It was informational, she said, and they had the opportunity to speak about the changes, but they were instructed not to speak publicly on the matter until it had been officially voted on.

While she said she understands how complicated these affairs can be, Meinberg felt there was little opportunity to discuss or share her feelings. “One day prior, there’s not much they can do to change the budget,” Meinberg said. “The students were not involved in the discussion whatsoever. We just get, ‘Here’s what it is, what do you think?’”

We understand there are processes. We understand these things are complicated. But understanding does not equal comfort, particularly when our options are not clearly communicated to us and we are left fumbling in the dark trying to find a way out.

Sometimes these changes make sense, and we realize university officials may have good intentions. But whatever those intentions are, a lack of transparency and honest interaction will result in mistrust and anger.

OU spends so much time comparing itself to other universities and those universities’ students, particularly when it comes to costs

and affordability. We are wondering: What does it matter how OU compares to the rest?

Competitive isn’t something to strive for; affordable and desirable is. For a university that prides itself on being “student-centered”, it feels like students’ actual opinions are not often taken into consideration. The priority here should not be on where the university stands in comparison to other Michigan schools —it should be on where it stands with its students.

The priority should be on the student with multiple jobs, classes and living expenses. It should be on the student with an active life in the student groups on campus, trying so hard to feel a part of something.

It should be on the student from a low-income family with few aid options, striving to be the first generation to receive that increasingly expensive paper known as a degree. The priority should be on us, the students, and the priority should be on maintaining an open, two-way conversation with us.

OU, you have bragged to us that you are student centered. It’s time to make those words into actions. Because actions DO matter, and all we see at the moment is an even higher tuition bill with no warning or discussion, and even less sympathy. Either change your act, or change your motto from “student-centered” to “self-centered.”