Semester lacks transparency on community front

Ellis McGinleyCopy Editor

In our first 21 days on campus, residents went to and from quarantine, a portion of campus lost power for the worse part of a day, we were hit by two snowstorms, and administration still has no updates on new testing procedures for commuters. 

Crises range from minor irritations to dynamic-shifting proposals, as university enrollment continues to decline, and debts continue to rise. 

It also seems as though the snow day is, effectively, dead, as all classes had digital platforms for the first week of class, which are now expected to be reactivated such as in the case of weather risks. 

To put it lightly, it has been an intense start to an already convoluted semester. What hasn’t helped: the information divide between administration and students. 

I know many of these recent decisions were made in the heat of the moment. I don’t mean to sound naive, as if the nuance of these situations is lost on me: sometimes we can’t receive clear, quick answers because nobody has them.  

That said, in the six hours we were without power, it was not once explained what was going on. We did not know the suspected source of the outage, or what we should prepare for or expect in our hours without power.  

Our clearest update is when we were told to leave, and then several days later when we received a brief summary of the incident.  

Last Tuesday, it was not until 10 a.m that it was announced all classes after 12 would be held virtually for a storm which would not arrive until nightfall.  

I don’t know what’s fair to ask a university presented with more unexpected chaos in a time of constant unexpected chaos. I might have thought a century-plus-old institution on the coast of New England would have contingency plans in case of incidents like these, but I genuinely don’t know.   

There can be no accountability without transparency, but how and when can we ask for the latter? 

And all the while, as if happening in the background, the university Board of Regents 

continues to propose increased budget cuts and changes to the faculty workload.  

The Connecticut State University Association said in a statement as old as December that Connecticut state universities “will be compromised and state university accreditation will be at risk because the BOR proposals undermine the education we can provide.” 

And yet, it seems as if students may be lucky to have received even one email from their respective departments about the apparently ongoing situation.  

Then again, it can be hard to focus when one’s daily routine is at risk of changing half-way through, or they worry their residential building may still be running off generator power.  

There also seems to be a common conception that sluggish bureaucracy is just part of the deal when one seeks higher education.  

I am already sick of it. It’s hard to propose a clear solution because there is no one clear issue, other than information on every potential issue in Southern, small or large, is never forthcoming. 

 We attend a university that has quite literally hung a social justice banner from its tallest building. If we cannot self-advocate when we are struggling to understand the issues affecting or potentially affecting our community, never mind the issues themselves, what does that mean?  

I don’t think this sense of frustration around these consistent miscommunications or sometimes lack of communication is limited to me. There is a conversation to be had around what our community needs and can expect to receive in times of crisis. 

As a new student, a resident, a member of this community, and someone trying to survive in a global pandemic, I am excited to be a part of it. 

Then again, perhaps that conversation has been in progress for some time already. How could I know?  

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