Letter to the Editor—Haley Ensz


As a member of the Educational Opportunity Fund committee and a fine arts student senator on Student Government Association, I feel that it is my duty to address the concerns students have regarding this year’s student fees. I write this letter in hopes that it gives the student body perspective, understanding, and hope in your student leaders.

For the past two years I worked as a Transition Mentor employed by the Office of First Year Programs. Though my main responsibility in this position was to ensure the success and safety of each student and guest attending orientation, the job did entail much more. In addition to leading new students around campus, we also had the opportunity to guide them during their first semester of college and foster their enthusiasm for the university.

During my time in this position, I took the values of the job both happily and seriously; however, about two weeks before our first orientation of the 2017 Summer season I learned about a piece of information that broke my spirits. It is not my place to disclose what that information was, but I can say it was significantly disturbing enough for me to have trouble honestly promoting a university that I once completely trusted. I was deeply angered by the lack of transparency.

My heart was broken for the institution that I loved, and I was in a painful situation with no clear solution. After having the counsel of close friends and taking time to self reflect, I knew that I had a commitment to the students I was serving. I wanted to give them the best experience and guidance as possible in the role I had committed to fill. I knew that I could be a part of making Wichita State a better place to study, and that principle is what continues to drive me in the decisions that I make regarding the student leadership roles I continue to pursue on campus. In the case of my past job as a Transition Mentor, I had a wonderful team of supervisors and coworkers that continue to have the best interest of the students at heart. I could not have asked for a more dedicated team of people to work with. Their enthusiasm continues to encourage me, and I have seen the same enthusiasm by many members of our student senate.

However, this does not mean that I believe we are infallible. Though we are composed of a group of committed senators that are trying to do our best, that does not mean we make the right decisions all of the time. I encourage you as committed students, faculty, and staff to always call for transparency when you question the integrity behind a decision.

As an extension of that, I also urge you to contact your student senators and get to know their hearts. Many on senate wish to do their very best to represent you, but we cannot do that in isolation. A conversation needs to be started. How may we vote on concerns of the student body without having a consistent dialogue with them about the initiatives that we start? How do we help those we represent by staying silent when they have unanswered questions? We don’t.

Questions about transparency in Student Government Association and in the Wichita State administration are not a new concern, and the past week we have seen years of tension culminate between all parties involved. I invite all of you to not only voice your concerns, but help us come up with solutions to help mend this transparency issue.

Finally, I would like to address my time as an Educational Opportunity Fund committee member. As you all know, this past Friday the committee made a decision to make our final deliberation meeting closed.

We were legally advised that a closed meeting would be appropriate and that closed meetings were precedent. As it was my first time on the committee, I felt it wise to follow counsel. I agreed with the consensus of a closed meeting, because I felt that there was a conflict of interest having those we provide funding to in the meeting where we make the decisions; however, upon further reflection, I was faced with another dilemma. We had an inherent conflict of interest with Student Affairs heading the committee, because they also receive funding. Based on my original logic, if we were to hold a meeting with Student Affairs in the room, The Sunflower does have a case for wanting to be in the room as well. I am thankful to say that this has been recognized as a conflict of interest issue, and I am hopeful that this will be resolved in the near future.

I would like all of you to be a part of that conversation, and I encourage you to reach out to me – fine arts students or otherwise. I truly believe that we can do much more good if we all work together. Precedent does not necessarily define what is right; the rules and values we hold true are meant to evolve as our society grows in understanding. This is the beauty of government.

—Haley Ensz is a member of the Educational Opportunity Fund committee and a Fine Arts student senator on Student Government Association.

To submit a Letter to the Editor, please visit thesunflower.com/letter