The Simpsonian

Our View: Faculty cuts happened. Student representation didn’t. Why not?

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Our View: Faculty cuts happened. Student representation didn’t. Why not?

We learned last week that Simpson College plans to eliminate 13 faculty positions between the next six to 24 months.

This news, while devastating, also does not come as much of a surprise. In the wake of last year’s faculty reductions due to program prioritization, rumors have abounded that those cuts weren’t sufficient to fix the college’s budget woes.

Losing 13 more valued members of Simpson’s faculty is a heavy blow that nobody on campus is happy about. However, there also appears to be a loose consensus among everyone—students, faculty and staff—that some cuts had to be made.

But the college did not include students in the process of deciding these cuts and have barred students from meetings where information about these cuts were discussed.

A number of faculty members, as well as Student Government Association representatives, have communicated off-the-record with The Simpsonian in the weeks leading up to the college’s formal announcement that these cuts were to take place.

The Simpsonian, along with members of the SGA, attempted to attend a faculty meeting on Oct. 3, but since the faculty were discussing sensitive information about the reductions that weren’t already public knowledge, they voted to close off the session to faculty only.

At the faculty meeting a week later, on Oct. 10, students were allowed to stay for about the first hour of the meeting—until President Simmons began to discuss sensitive information he’d rather not share with students present. About an hour later, he sent out his email announcing the faculty reductions.

What about his message to faculty was so important that Simmons didn’t want students to hear?

And perhaps more importantly: Why weren’t students allowed to be part of this round of faculty cuts in the same way we were last year, during program prioritization?

There’s a way to go about deciding and announcing faculty reductions that includes student representation. The college even did so last year during the program prioritization process, which had targeted 12 other faculty positions for termination.

President Jay Simmons and his cabinet held open forum meetings where students could learn about the process and ask questions.

None of that happened this year. Instead, the president sent an email to campus announcing the reductions.

Granted, he did send out two follow-up frequently asked question documents with further answers to some of the main questions students have.

But the best thing the president—and the administration as a whole—could have done was to let students know about the planned reductions earlier on this semester. They should have included students in the conversation from the start. Even now, students still want to have that conversation with the college.

The best way for the college to rebuild lost trust and confidence with students is to meet them on their terms and listen to students’ grievances. On Friday, students will extend an opportunity to start a conversation of their own with the college. We hope the college will accept it.

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