The sudden appearance of signs outside Memorial and suit-clad strangers made one thing quite clear: the Trustees have arrived.
Though Whitman students have always been active members of their college community, recent calls for transparency signal students’ desire for an even deeper involvement in the college. Whether in circulating surveys, on the Pioneer’s front page, or with statistics on posters, the buzzword engages diverse groups in campus-wide discussion.
This week, the beginning of the 2016 Global Studies Symposium, “Human Zoos: Photography, Race, and Empire,” involved students, faculty, and visiting professors in a conversation regarding the roots of racism. As explained in a widely distributed petition and Pioneer articles, faculty and students alike were surprised by the revocation of course releases for professors on the Global Studies Steering Committee. Over three hundred community members called for the “transparent and inclusive” consideration of the Symposium, leading to an ASWC Resolution that expressed support for Global Studies. While an enlightening experience on its own, the Symposium also serves as a reminder of student-administration disconnects over the role of transparency.
In December, ASWC Vice President Arthur Shemitz hosted a Town Hall dedicated to ascertaining the tangible goals and concerns related to transparency. Shemitz explored how “[t]ransparency is a really perennial issue” due to “consequential decisions [that] have been made” without consulting students. Nevertheless, Shemitz added, “students are involved when Trustees come to town” through their participation on governing boards. Though the lack of a working microphone at this event complicated the conversation, students’ desire for greater representation remained clear.
In addition to conceptualizing ways for the Board to increase transparency, ASWC invites all students to apply for a position on a college committee or governing board; each board deliberates on a certain facet of Whitman College, student-related or administrative, and meets with the Board of Trustees biannually. Email a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org to apply for open governing board positions Of course, students can always contact email@example.com with any suggestions or concerns.