Biggest Disappointment: Administrative responses last fall
It may be hard to have certain conversations, but it’s easier than having the two top administrators resign within 12 hours of each other.
May. 03, 2016
To call the 2015–16 school year the year of the student activist would be an understatement. But while students have been communicative about their concerns, administrators have not.
Throughout the fall, administrative response was severely lacking. For every racial slur that made the news and misstep for graduate students’ rights, administrators almost always lacked a response.
On Aug. 14, graduate students’ health insurance was cut and students were notified by email on very short notice. After multiple protests and walkouts, the administration still seemed apathetic.
Starting in September, a series of racist incidents occurred on campus. A few weeks later, former UM System President Tim Wolfe’s car was famously blocked by Concerned Student 1950 protesters demanding a response. The students wrote that “after years of constant emailing, letter writing and social media outreach, (Wolfe) had still not responded to the issues of racial injustice on the largest campus in the state.”
But it wasn’t until five days after graduate student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike demanding Wolfe’s resignation that Wolfe addressed the incident.
“I was caught off guard in that moment,” Wolfe said in an apology statement.
But does one moment equate to waiting three weeks to respond? Hours later, Wolfe was caught on camera seeming to blame black students for being oppressed after being asked to define systematic oppression.
On Nov. 9, following another racist incident on campus and the football team going on strike, Wolfe resigned. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned later in the day, facing increasing pressure from faculty.
But the lack of communication wasn’t over after the two top administrators resigned.
The culminating moment in lack of response was the poor communication on the night after Wolfe and Loftin resigned, when Yik Yak threats created fear. Many students feared for their safety, and while none of the threats were ultimately deemed credible, students were left to fear the worst due to a lack of communication.
Throughout the fall semester, administrators continuously dropped the ball. Had there been better immediate responses in reaction to the many events that occurred on campus, it’s possible that change could have occurred sooner. Instead, the administration swept students’ concerns under the rug until they had no choice but to address them out of growing national scrutiny.
Take note, administration: In the future, it might be better to have the hard conversations immediately instead of waiting and losing two top-level administrators.