Students should be more involved in university’s decision-making

posted in: Opinion | 0

The statement that financial benefits “come back directly to the students” can only be said by somebody who hasn’t eaten pizza the University Center recently. Behind this kind of fog I think it can seen straightforwardly that: 1. There are authoritarian trends and misuses of power at Pacific University, 2. Pacific University’s sustainability goals receive meager support, and 3. Students, faculty, the Board of Trustees and President Lesley Hallick can more efficiently reallocate our resources to meet desirable goals outside of massages in Palm Springs, as each directly contribute in bringing “economic capital” to the university.

Phil Creighton, although admirable on a personal level, should have donned a horned Viking helmet based on the totalitarian power he exerted on the decision-making process during his time at Pacific. Those positions of power, within the presidency and the board, only have the option to abuse power because our student body (and our faculty, who risk their jobs upon dissent) remain subject to the blind faith to which you demand.

Respect is earned. My hope is these various trends do not continue into our future and that a more holistic approach—a more democratic approach—can develop at Pacific.

We, as students, also pay for the excellence and prestige brought to Pacific University. President Creighton earned a $517,758 salary in 2008/09 and I highly doubt Hallick is far off in 2010/11. We pay the pricy tuition, buy expensive books and annual price hikes, but are still only part of the economic equation. We have KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer on our board, and several other powerful trustees who bring in a massive influx of cash. The Legends Golf Classic alone drew $425,000 (minus the costs of putting the event on) just for our athletic program.

For these contributions, and for the prestige that they bring to our campus, we are all thankful. However, is important to remember that we are all equally invested in the university and its actions. Imagine what even a fraction of that cash could do for Student Life programs, for B Street, or even for our aging and backward freshmen dorms.

As the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Life, I hope you should want to support, foster and create these kinds of development with the capital coming into Pacific.

The issue here is not resentment at all. I don’t hold an issue with Phil Creighton,  Hallick, the Board of Trustees, or with you—I have no reason to, and why should I? The issue here isn’t about individuals; it’s about how Pacific, as a community, should address the goal of sustainability.

The issue here is also about power and accountability within the presidency and the board to meet the sustainability goals of the school, which as you said, is the “pillar” of Pacific’s “university mission.” The issue here is that the students, faculty, the Board of Trustees, and President Hallick have seriously unequal power in decision-making processes. The issue is that the Sustainability Committee isn’t properly invested in, so it can’t properly do its job. We, as students, can’t realize our desired potential toward sustainable anything because of the blatant greenwashing and misdirection by the administration.

“The biggest economic challenge to the future of private universities” won’t be learned by flying to Palm Springs for chit-chat between the upper echelons of university hierarchy—it will be learned at home, from engaging in your own local community, by connecting with the actual desires and visions of those students who believe in your words.

Those students who help support your paychecks by coming to Pacific University. These insights are not inappropriate or a comical miss whatsoever. Quite the contrary, this is the only way these issues will be voiced—because due to the inequalities in Pacific’s power structure—I, as the student, am disposable.

And frankly, I don’t think that’s a vision of sustainability that you or I want to see come into reality.


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