Lawrence Administration Pushes Anti-Democratic Agenda; Renders LUCC Meaningless

snyderp@lawrence.edu

(I realize this letter is longer than 350 words. However, because of the
relevance of the issue to student life and the lack of a Lawrention reporter
at the LUCC meeting, I feel that the issue deserves extra space.) For years, the democratic process of the Lawrence University
Community Council (LUCC) has been a defining feature of Lawrence life. At
it simplest, LUCC gives students control over student issues, the non-
academic aspects of life on campus. Few other schools in the United States
have an as autonomous, democratic, and meaningful student government
as Lawrence does. It is no exaggeration to say that LUCC is a major part of
the “Lawrence Difference” that is lauded about in the mail admissions
sends to prospective students each year. On Tuesday, October 21, those
democratic ideals were rendered meaningless by the Lawrence
administration.
During the 2002-2003 academic year, LUCC debated the issue of
whether or not Plantz Hall should be declared smoke free. After hours of
debate and considering that more smoke free housing would be available
with the addition of Hiett Hall, the council decided that housing should be
provided for students who wanted to smoke in their rooms. However, on
October 21st of this year, the administration, through representative Dean
Truesdale, informed LUCC that beginning July 2004, all University owned,
rented, and leased facilities would become smoke-free. Although the policy
was explained as protecting Lawrence University staff, under scrutiny that
justification proves hallow. Because custodial staff, the only staff that
works in student residences, is not allowed to enter individual rooms, their
exposure to smoke is minimal at worst. Regardless, whether or not one
agrees with the ends achieved by the administration’s actions, they are
necessarily tainted by the undemocratic means by which they were
achieved; the administration ignored the will of the students and faculty as
expressed by LUCC’s decision of continuing to allow smoking in Plantz
Hall.
The administration’s course of action is not repugnant only because it
undermined the democratic ideals of the University, but more importantly
because of the prescient that it sets. If the administration can swat aside
the will of LUCC, the sole democratic voice of the students and faculty on
campus, whenever it dislikes the results, then LUCC is effectively reduced
to nothing more than a glorified debating society for 14 students and 4
faculty members.
This should not be dismissed as an isolated event. At the same
October 21st LUCC meeting, the administration proposed legislation that
would remove 24-hour student parking from student control. (However,
after much debate and a lengthy student led amendment process, the
students were able to maintain control over their own parking situation.)
Similarly, last academic year, former LUCC president Cole Delaney wrote a
three part editorial concerning the administration’s creation of “formal
group housing” outside of LUCC jurisdiction, effectivly eroding student say
over student housing.
If students want their voice to have any relevance to life on campus,
they should be appalled at the administration’s attempts to diminish their
say over student issues. I encourage anyone who shares my anger and
frustration with this turn of events to contact President Warch and demand
that he respect the democratic process embodied in LUCC by repealing the
new smoking policy and to instead submit it to LUCC for student and
faculty approval. Anything less is anathema to the democratic ideals that
Lawrence University claims to embody.

President Warch’s contact information (from find.lawrence.edu):

Public Email:richard.warch@lawrence.edu
Campus Address:President’s Office Sampson House
Campus Phone: x6525

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