While we all continue to wonder and worry about the future of the university, a select group of individuals still hold true to the foundational characteristics of this intellectually hallowed ground. I refer to this group as “The Inner Circle” — a cabal made up of students and faculty, pooling ideas and information in order to either convince the administration and Board of Trustees to rethink True Commitment or waylay it long enough that the powers that be give up on its implementation. Even though their noble goal remains an important step in preserving and hopefully restoring TU’s declining reputation, we must also hold The Inner Circle accountable for their slip ups and inconsistencies.
The recent No Confidence vote in Provost/Interim President Janet Levit shows one such instance for analysis. With 26 percent of the study body participating, 805 students voted for No Confidence and 264 voted for Confidence. However, some of the chalk writing around the campus claims that 76 percent of students voted No Confidence — an incorrect statistic that one could assume to be an accident, but one that should have been corrected immediately.
While it may seem like a small issue, improperly reporting statistics through the group’s most public medium presents a front that relies on deceit and trickery to manipulate the public, which casts a poor light on the anti-True Commitment efforts as a whole. Of course, one could suppose that the chalk graffiti artist was a rogue agent with no connection to The Inner Circle, but that does not change the fact that The Inner Circle could have fixed the drawing with the addition of a simple word: voters. Saying “76 percent of voters voted No Confidence” rings true. It’s a true statement.
I nitpick, but writing something that misconstrues the truth shouldn’t happen and shouldn’t remain in an unfixed state for several weeks.
As for the vote itself, one simple question remains: what does it do? As far as I can tell, nothing? Student Association (SA) doesn’t want to pick a side, saying that their role only consisted of facilitating the vote, and according to some conversations SA leadership doesn’t seem all that concerned. Similarly, why would the Board or the administration care? The vote had 26 percent of the study body show up, and of that 26 percent, 805 students voted No Confidence. With a little math, one can say that around 20 percent of the student population voted No Confidence — a minority amount. Words of praise abounded after the results came out, with exclamations of joy at the number of voters, citing the massive number in relation to the notoriously poor SA election turnouts. However, if I were a member of the Board and had to talk about this seemingly important vote, I would say, “Approximately 20 percent of the study body disagrees with Interim President Levit,” then proceed to ignore it. What some call a victory seems more empty and useless than the strategic plan it attempts to block.
Another, perhaps embarrassing, question asks, what’s actually going on? As a commuter student, I may not be in a prime position to hear everything, but I don’t think I’ve missed any huge several-thousand person rallies. Are we attempting to outlast True Commitment, attempting to slow its implementation and hope our adversaries give up? If so, The Inner Circle should be extending its membership, bringing in and training new individuals to continue on after they graduate, which would require centralizing the group and maintaining a dominant presence in the student body’s conscience.
Are we hoping that our minority of a minority vote will force the Board to rethink its policy? That seems rather unlikely. If it were to happen, it would have occured after the faculty vote of No Confidence, which presents a much stronger voice because of the inherent reliance of a university on its faculty. A university can get more students, but finding good quality scholars lies in another league of difficulty. The goal remains to fend off the implementation of True Commitment, but now I see some individuals lumping in various facets of shared governance, which complicates the situation. Which goal is primary, which is secondary? So much confusion clouds this topic of conversation that it forces me to realize why people don’t care about it. I support the resistance of True Commitment, but without direction, guidance and an actual flow of information, I have no clue what the next step is or why I should continue investing my mental fortitude in a seemingly lost cause.