This week marks both the first LUCC meeting of the year and the first time in 25 years that LUCC will be working with a new president of Lawrence. Given these new circumstances, especially in the context of the tension that marked LUCC dealings with the previous university administration, a comparison may be in order.What are the similarities and differences between how President Jill Beck and LUCC President Joel Rogers understand the role of student government at Lawrence? Both Beck and Rogers were interviewed individually, alone, and were asked identical questions. While they agreed on several points, what each administration plans to emphasize this year certainly varies.
While many Lawrentians are well-acquainted with the tensions that characterized relations between former LUCC President Jacques Hacquebord and President Warch, Beck was not informed about conflicts that characterized these tense relations, such as the campus-wide smoking ban and the formal group housing controversy. When given this context, and asked about what she believed likely caused such difficulties between LUCC and the administration, Beck responded, “No one has delivered a climate to me, to say ‘this is the state of affairs.’ My consistent preference is to start fresh. We’re in a period of transition, let’s all negotiate the best ways to work together.”
Rogers was also adamant about the importance of a fresh start in student/administration relations. “I came to LUCC with a vision to get things done, and to not necessarily get involved with old issues,” Rogers stated, adding, “I don’t think it’s necessary to bring-up old ghosts.” Rogers elaborated further on his position, stating, “We really need to support Ms. Beck in her transition here. Her first year, second year, in my opinion, is no time to talk criticism. We have a new leader; we need to work with her. Once she’s settled-in and there are new issues, then we need to air them … it’s not fair for us to bog anyone down while they’re getting their feet wet.” Later in the interview, Rogers did, however, state, “We may have to come back to the smoking [ban] issue to settle some things” with the administration.
As for how to best ease any tensions left-over from previous LUCC dealings with the university administration, both Rogers and Beck stressed the importance of dialogue. Said Rogers: “We need to have constructive conversations, using the skills gained from freshman studies: analysis, objective thinking, and criticism, to come to constructive conclusions so we don’t have to return to these same problems over and over again.”
Beck also focused on the open-exchange of information, although she also took a more pragmatic approach to LUCC-administration relations.
Given the context of the FGH and smoking ban controversies, Beck believes that LUCC and the Warch administration were tending to make decisions which the other group reversed. “The more information we share, the more we may be able to negotiate solutions or compromises that are mutually agreeable. Perhaps more sharing [of] information would allow us to move in directions that are not oppositional,” Beck said. Beck also qualified her responses, stating, “I’m not saying I won’t disagree with LUCC, but maybe we could have more prior dialogue.”
Both Beck and Rogers are, however, very much in agreement about the importance of student participation in LUCC. “Listening to and working with students often creates a greater sense of learning, of achievement, and a greater sense of community. And LUCC offers that, in that we have both student and faculty members that serve,” Rogers said. Beck voiced similar sentiments, stating, “Student government is essential to the well-running of the college. Student committees provide perspectives that we can’t get easily in other ways. It’s important for the administration to consider student viewpoints and information brought forward by students in our decision-making process. LUCC can help guarantee that these perspectives and this information is brought to my attention.