Author: Richie DeMaria
My fellow students and I attended the campus-wide meeting in Thorne Hall last week expecting a discussion on President Prager’s resignation and a chance to receive answers for all our questions and concerns on the matter. Instead, we were given a 30-minute session of rehearsed platitudes and non-answers, with very little time for actual discussion. I, like many others, was disappointed.
Maybe I went in expecting too much. After all, the e-mail made no promise of a question-and-answer session, nor did it indicate that the meeting would last longer than half-an-hour. Perhaps it was na’ve of me to assume that, given the apparent urgency of the meeting—all students and staff were “urged to attend”—and the importance of the issue being discussed, we would receive more answers than we did. But after a couple of speeches and two questions, we were dismissed to class, and many of us walked away from the brief meeting feeling as frustrated and confused as when we walked in.
What bothered me about the meeting—and, for that matter, many other administrative practices at Occidental—was its lack of transparency. We were given very few details about the resignation, the ensuing hiring process or the potential effects of Prager’s pending leave of office. We were essentially allowed only two or three questions, and the answers we did receive were generally evasive and unspecific. We were not given the chance to speak with President Prager, who was present yet remained silent. We were told not to worry, but we were not given enough information to quell our unease. We were told our school is “healthy and fine,” but the apparent reality—administrators leaving left and right—indicates otherwise. Although this meeting purportedly intended to address issues about Prager’s resignation, the students were left, regrettably, in the dark.
The meeting could have gone differently. Ideally, it would have lasted as long as it needed to; I know plenty of students who were willing, and even expecting, to stay during class time in order to have their concerns addressed. Students could have been presented with the opportunity to offer their own solutions or to simply voice their anxieties about the situation. I also see no reason why we weren’t allowed the time to speak to President Prager.
I am not asking the Board of Trustees or President Prager to reveal the reasons for her departure; I understand her reasons are personal and confidential. I am asking that students’ concerns are adequately met, and that our voices are given the respect they deserve. As it stands, we are denied information, and decisions are made without our input on the grounds that we are either too ignorant or too young to have any meaningful sway. Perhaps the administration knows best, but I would like to believe that student concerns matter as well. After Tuesday’s meeting, I’m not convinced that they do.
Richie DeMaria is a sophomore ECLS major. He can be reached at [email protected]
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