Staff Editorial

The Lawrence administration has set an admirable precedent in open communication with students: administrators not only value student input on the university’s decisions but also solicit and facilitate this input, a priority ensured by the control given to student-run organizations throughout campus, from LUCC and Honor Council to WLFM and The Lawrentian.
The administration’s emphasis on student participation has been particularly evident in the construction and planning of the Warch Campus Center, in which students have been implored to offer input on everything from textiles to meal plans. Recently, during the university’s consideration of possible dining management companies, the university has made a point of inviting students to open information sessions. Regardless of whether individuals take advantage of their opportunities, Lawrentians are fortunate to have a remarkable amount of input into university decisions.
However, following the administration’s seemingly abrupt decision to change the university calendar, this tide is shifting. This decision, undeniably influenced by recent financial concerns, was jarring not only because of its suddenness but, more importantly, the un-Lawrence-like lack of campus input. This quiet change is certainly not the first of its nature; the unexpected removal of staff positions in Brokaw caught the attention of campus last year.
Recently, rumors about the future of campus buildings and areas, including the potential – however temporary – dissolution of the dean of multicultural affairs position and the closing of the Viking Room next year, have begun to spark concern. Though obviously serving very different purposes, both of these decisions would greatly affect campus.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs has recently made significant strides in gaining visibility and becoming the resource for students it was meant to be. The office’s response to the homophobic harassment during first term showed the relevance and importance of having such an establishment on campus. The reduction of the Office of Multicultural Affairs would not only stunt this progress but also raise questions as to where the university’s priorities lie.
In the case of the VR, alumni and students have gone out of their way to express their wish for the VR to remain open. When revealing plans for the new Warch Center, the administration assured the community that the VR would stay put. This rumor is troubling not only because the shuttering of the VR would end a cherished campus tradition, but also because the administration would be going back on its word.
As students, we recognize that we are not aware of the breadth of the financial strain on the university and that the administration needs to re-evaluate and make changes in light of these challenges.
However, as the administration is not privy to students’ day-to-day concerns, it is vital that administrators continue to take into consideration students’ perspectives. It is our responsibility to make the most of the control that we have, a luxury not afforded to students at many other universities.
In both the situations of the VR and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, it is important for students to capitalize on the administration’s precedence of receptiveness to student concern and ensure that our voices continue to be heard. Administration and students alike need to reach out to one another, creating a dialogue where agreements – or at least mutual understanding – are reached.