Clear as mud


by Caleb Geer, Editor-in-Chief

Simpson College administration is in quite the predicament as of late, and unfortunately for them, it has exposed many shortcomings. The recent forum over topics such as the ongoing construction on campus had President Marsha Kelliher, Academic Dean John Woell and Vice President of Student Development Heidi Levine, each in their own respective hotseat.

 If you don’t know what was discussed in the forum, I will now encourage you to look back on some of this publication’s media as well as the actual footage of the event, which is on the Student Government Association (SGA) Facebook page. I do this so that I can save room on this page to complain about things that probably won’t change because, unfortunately, that’s just how life goes. What I can say is that many questions were dismissed as unanswerable at this point in time.

 First, I want to open by expressly saying how much I appreciate Levine. I do know her and the Residence Life staff well from having a work-study in the Student Development office, but I must say that she goes out of her way to talk with students when she is not working.

With Kelliher, it’s widely assumed by students (of which I include myself) that she is busy networking for her job and may not typically be on campus that much. This isn’t that big of a deal, considering she is the top dog on campus. I only ever see her randomly, but she always seems to be wearing a red dress. Iconically, she has always been at the late-night breakfasts during finals week, serving scrambled eggs.

That is my main memory of the school’s president during my time here at Simpson, which, ironically, will be longer than hers. Just recently, she announced that she will retire at some point this year, making her stay here at the college only three years long. No hate from me, as I know she has done good things for the school, but I think it’s funny (President Kelliher, if you read this, congratulations on your engagement!).

With Dean Woell, I must say I have a bone to pick, and I imagine the rest of campus feels similarly. He did, after all, make it through the entire forum answering only one question and making it seem very evident that he did not want to be there. “I’m sorry, I’m getting bored,” he said at the open forum on Jan. 25, and I could immediately tell that this was not the guy who was going to be friendly or communicative with students.

Funnily enough, he also makes claims about how he eats in Kent Campus Center and talks to students. I have been here at Simpson College for the last three years and have never seen this man in person. Maybe he quit socializing with students after COVID-19 initially hit, maybe I’m blind, maybe he’s a reserved person and doesn’t make it formally known who he is or maybe he’s a liar. We may never know. 

Even on a more personal level, Woell has neglected to be a source when reached out to by the Student Media. I remember sending him emails myself and him telling me he would forward my questions on to the Board of Trustees. I never received any follow-up. I took the cold shoulder in stride and made do as I’ve become good at, but I still have beef.

At the end of the day, who really holds the power here at Simpson if these three can’t answer many questions about the direction the school is headed? The omniscient, unseen Board of Trustees is the answer, and unfortunately students don’t get to encounter them frequently or at all in most cases. People like Kelliher, Woell and Levine are in liaison roles and are supposed to help facilitate the connection between the business (college) and the consumers (students).

 I know I am not a genius by any means, as I am a communications major (haha), but something is just not adding up. Communication is crucial in business, and I see a lack of it here on this campus. What I do see is a busted-ass game of telephone. I can only hope that the mid-February Board of Trustees meeting that was heavily referred to during the forum goes well.