Our View: Administration’s secrets cause distrust, division


Everyone has secrets: people, businesses, even your little old grandma. Some secrets are good, like presents or when you’re planning a surprise birthday party. In those cases, it’s almost essential to keep secrets for the success of the outcome, the reaction.

Other secrets may seem just as well-intentioned but aren’t as innocent. These kinds of secrets cause distrust and division, secrets like why beloved staff and faculty are disappearing from our campus or potential dangers to campus.

So this is a public call to transparency between campus administration and students.

At a school like Simpson College, where students pay so much to be here and receive their education, the students deserve nothing less than honesty when it comes to important campus matters. When someone as crucial to students such as Kara May, who was assistant director for the Center of Academic Resources, vanishes from the school in the middle of the day, students shouldn’t be left wondering why.

At the beginning of this semester, the administration sent an email telling students that Rick Spellerberg, a 20-plus-year veteran of the mathematics department, was opting in for early retirement for which he qualified. While this may be true, many students are left with an uneasy feeling about the situation.

Why would a professor so invested in Simpson students leave, especially on such short notice? For many in the math department, Spellerberg was the reason they came to this school.

Rumors have circulated that Spellerberg had ulterior motives for leaving. According to such rumors, he was allegedly attempting to start a program to help the actuarial science students gain experience while also making money for the college. When administration pushed back on the idea, Spellerberg looked for places that would give him the freedom to follow through with his plan.

When a dangerous situation lingers nearby, it is the school’s responsibility to inform the students. Last month, a standoff between police and a homicidal man occurred less than a block from Simpson apartments. Granted, a notice was issued warning students of the incident, but it insisted the situation was not a threat to campus.

Similarly, when members of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega were threatened, the Simpson College community learned about it through The Des Moines Register nearly a week later. Admittedly, we don’t know how when campus was notified by the police, and if they were, how much they were told. Assuming they knew about the threat, Simpson College officials issued no warning to students.

Some say ignorance is bliss, but we are at an institution for education, including issues within it. When we’re not informed, when the students and administration are not on the same page, the campus community suffers. There is a lack of trust and an increase of frustration.

That’s where we come in. It’s long been said that the media is the watchdog of the government, in our case, the Simpson College administration. We strive to fill the gaps in information for our readers, but we’d rather it come straight from the source.