Letter to the Editor – Wade Robinson
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Just as water only boils after simmering for a period of time and an earthquake only happens after tension builds over a period of time, the frustrations expressed by Student Body President Joseph Shepard and some members of the Student Government Association are the result of issues that have simmered and built over the last few years.
Because I said I would (from Alex Sheen and Convocation) support students, faculty and staff, I am writing this for Shepard, members of SGA and some Student Affairs staff.
Shepard and others have been involved for several years in various organizations on campus. They have worked through the proper channels only to be told “no,” to be criticized, or completely ignored with no response at all. Those of you who ask why Joseph and others do not work with the administration do not know how hard they have tried over several years.
When a quiet and gentle voice is not supported, included, or welcomed (which Shepard used for a long time), a raised voice is sometimes needed.
The values listed in the Strategic Plan need to be more than just words for the Higher Learning Commission to read. One value notes diversity. Diversity comes in the form of gender, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political affiliation and others.
Perhaps the most important area of diversity is diversity of thought. Past Senates only had students in the majority and were not always receptive to ideas from those in the minority.
When minority groups feel they have not been supported and included it can lead to frustration. Some past examples of not being supported or included by the administration include:
— LGBT programming initiatives when a legislator complained about a program being held on campus.
— A Peace Pole initiative introduced by the Global Faith in Action group and the WSU Sculpture Guild.
— Multicultural Greek sorority members wanting to display some of their traditions.
— Religious groups seeking facility changes.
— Transgender students when the Gender Neutral Bathroom & Shower signage had to be taken down in the Heskett Center a year after it was put up.
— Proposals for electric car charging stations.
— The initial proposal for a tobacco-free campus.
— The initial request for a Food Pantry.
— Initiatives related to addressing sexual violence on campus.
Senators who state a “Culture of Fear” does not exist among all students are correct. Those with direct connections to members of the President’s Executive Team, and who are not members of any minority group, have nothing to fear.
Minority groups and staff who support the minority can be isolated, minimized and marginalized more easily than those in the majority. These students and individuals need Joseph and SGA to support them and be their voice.
When I was going through a trying time at WSU, a good friend shared with me the video link of Morgan Freeman talking about Nelson Mandela and the poem “Invictus: by William Ernest Henley. Look it up on the web. The video inspired me when times were challenging and I think of it now when I think of what Joseph, SGA and some Student Affairs staff are experiencing.
Student Affairs work requires dedication, commitment, and conviction. Just as “Invictus” ends, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
We all are.
Wade Robinson, Ph.D.
Former WSU Vice President for Student Affairs