By: Daniela Mesa, CLASS OF 2017
Dear Furman Officials,
The last couple of weeks have made something abundantly clear to me: there is an aching need for transparency on our campus. In fact, I would venture to say that the inner workings of our school administration system are as clear to the average student as the Furman lake water.
I had inklings of this revelation last semester when the protest and requests for an official school comment on the laid-off multicultural professors went unanswered. The situation made me incredibly uncomfortable because, as a multicultural student that has embraced Furman fully as my home, I did not want to believe that my professors were being dismissed because of what made them special in an otherwise painfully homogeneous community. I waited for an official statement, any reassurance that it was all a misunderstanding, that there were legitimate reasons for letting go of certain professors. Alas, nothing, just dark unwelcomed silence. The complete lack of information, the outraged student claims, and distressing radio silence on Furman’s account have resulted in gnawing doubt and an unformed opinion that remains today about the whole situation.
Fast-forward to the past two weeks and I have never been more disappointed in Furman’s ways of handling business. The last minute weather cancellations of that doomed icy Tuesday can be deemed irresponsible and negligent, at best. The lack of a cancellation decision or a timeline for when the decision would be made disgruntled students, staff, and faculty alike. No decision or a timeline for one, meant most students stayed up late awaiting instructions for how to set their alarms. It left faculty and staff with children at a loss for making arrangements for childcare. Furthermore, the last minute extension of the Tuesday delay into a full day cancellation came too late for many of the faculty that had already ventured onto campus in perilous driving conditions. The very way in which weather cancellation conditions are made and by who are also maintained under wraps. Many students seem to be under the impression that the Furman University Police Department makes weather cancellation decisions, which is not a completely misguided opinion since emails from a certain passive aggressive school official about weather cancellation policies are surreptitiously rerouted through a Furman police officer’s email account.
Who can blame students for taking to the infamous Yik Yak to vent their frustration with the administration’s prolonged lack of communication when they are treated like children and kept in the dark? To anyone that has seen any of the multiple less than kind yaks they would seem like deafening anger, but if so then the administration is decidedly deaf. In light of these observations, I would like to suggest some advice to the administration, the same in fact that I would give to a three year old: Use your words! Moreover, listen to ours.
Perhaps the real reasons why students take to enraged posts in anonymous media is because there is no constructive outlet to let their voices be heard. The Furman community is in dire need of a forum in which we can unite our voices on issues that matter to us and know that we will not be ignored by the administration. I am not asking for the school to cater to every whim and fancy of its students, but to merely acknowledge our grievances and explain what Furman intends to do or not do about them. At a school where the sale’s pitch raves on about student involvement and leadership, I do not think it inconceivable to aspire to a reliable petition system through which we can all together work for a better Furman.
I can only sincerely hope that someday there will be such a platform in which I can attach my name to an issue I care about and ensure that it will be addressed by a more caring Furman. The alternative is this article becoming just one more shout into the void, no better than an angry Yik Yak post. I propose instead to start a dialogue. We can sooner accept university decisions or propose more agreeable alternatives if we are all allowed to partake in such.
Your move Furman.