Column: Foley isn’t another Loftin

Now that Loftin is gone, columnist Elane Edwards tries to figure out where Foley should begin.

Planned Parenthood demonstrators echoed their frustration with interim Chancellor Hank Foley in Speakers Circle on Monday, Nov. 30, some even shouting, “Give him a bow tie!”

The demonstrators’ comparison of Foley’s actions as interim chancellor to former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin’s actions when he was chancellor lead me to question what Foley’s responsibility to the MU community truly is as interim chancellor.

Immediately after Loftin resigned, it seemed that a large population of the student body felt relieved that Foley took the position. However, the recent Planned Parenthood demonstration on Nov. 30 showed me that Foley taking the position was likely not what students were celebrating. Rather, students were merely happy about Loftin no longer being chancellor.

Consequently, students’ distaste for Loftin is influencing their expectations of Foley. Still, Foley replacing Loftin does not mean he should be the opposite of Loftin in trying to be what is best for MU right now.

Foley should not be expected to simply undo the decisions that Loftin made during his tenure as chancellor. Although high public demand led to Loftin’s removal, Foley’s responsibilities as interim chancellor should not be controlled by Loftin’s alleged failures. Nor is the interim chancellor supposed to carry out the decisions Loftin made before he resigned.

Foley is not interim chancellor so he can make large decisions — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. To prepare campus in case future conflict occurs, he should be focusing on mending the small issues that were not given as much attention during the overwhelming time of the Concerned Student 1950 protests.

Foley’s responsibility to MU is to give the student body time to breathe, which starts with an open conversation. He has sent several emails to the student body in regards to events happening on and off campus in an attempt to show he is here to speak with students, not at them. He realizes the power an open conversation can have, and if he sets that precedent now, it will help the continuous positive growth MU has been working so hard to achieve.

Although Foley decided to “continue to support the Medical Staff Executive Committee at MU Health Care” and chose to not reinstate refer and follow privileges starting Dec. 1, the language used in Foley’s statement reflected an understanding and thoughtful tone. However, as of Dec. 2, the deadline for refer and follow privileges has been moved to Dec. 30

“I am sympathetic to many of the situations and extenuating circumstances these women have found themselves in — situations and circumstances that lead to decisions most women will never have to make,” the statement read.

Loftin’s mistakes were rooted in a lack of listening and conversation, and Foley’s time as interim chancellor can be used to stabilize the campus climate. Foley might not be able to settle all the issues students have with MU, but he is able to give people time to move past their disappointment in Loftin and be ready for the next chancellor, one who hopefully is willing to make as big of a commitment to change as the students are.

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