Russi’s actions will speak louder than his words


Editor in Chief

This is certainly an exciting time to be a part of the student media at Oakland University.

From the strike and controversial contract negotiations to the upcoming vote of no confidence against President Gary Russi, which caused him to set a number of promises for specific changes. There’s been so much emotion and passion from the faculty. And despite the criticism they’ve been getting from commenters on stories on The Oakland Press’s site (The Post doesn’t get many comments yet), I think their actions are truly remarkable and inspiring.

I know as a journalist I shouldn’t have a public opinion on the things I cover, even though I try to keep my hands clean of the article writing because, as the editor, I write many of the editorials. But anybody can appreciate that the faculty are doing something that they believe in. Especially since they’re doing it not only for themselves, but for the students and for the future of the university. And while salary freezes were a part of it, the people out there saying the faculty are selfish for being upset about not receiving any pay increases are not looking at the entire issue. They’re seeing a shaving off the giant block of cheese or whatever you want to imagine.

This is not a petty fight. To think that anybody would believe that hundreds of thoughtful, educated, dedicated university professors would not know how to pick their battles is frightening. The merit of their pleas for change, while seeming drastic by calling for a vote of no confidence, are validated by the response by Russi. I’m not sure if he wrote that e-mail he sent out today by himself, but it hit most of the points of contention the faculty expressed in Thursday’s forum. The forum, which was asked for by the two faculty members willing to stick their name to the call to action, was called by Russi in what I think was a great move. It was the first step in combatting the allegations that his leadership of the university is subpar.

My instinct says that he truly cares and wants to make right, not for his career but for the OU community. He gave the words that want to be heard in his direct e-mail messages to the faculty and his town-hall style meeting. To be completely cliche, time will only tell if changes can and will be made. As he (and we) said, not everything is directly within his power, but as the president I would hope that he has some clout with those who do. The key here was that the faculty needed to get his attention, and they did. Now let’s see if he can get the attention of others and get them to make the necessary changes within their departments. That will be a true test of leadership.

I know how hard it is to get this university to do something as simple as process an order for 28 custom hoodies. God speed, Dr. Russi.

This blog originally appeared on my personal blog, survival as editor in chief of a college newspaper, which is on The Post’s student/faculty blogroll. To have yours linked, contact our web editor at [email protected]