Editorial: Favoritism at president's reception?

Taylor Lutz On Thursday, Feb. 18 the campus was introduced to our next college president. Dr. Troy VanAken. At the reception, students, faculty, and staff formed a receiving line — eager to meet the next creepily painted face of Blume Board. In order to keep the reception moving in a timely fashion, the Office of Communication and Public Affairs discouraged students from monopolizing time speaking with VanAken privately. While this seemed logical in the interest of time, the language was poorly chosen. Rather than telling students to move quickly, they were specifically told, “don’t push your agenda” and “don’t ask philosophical questions”. These statements give the impression that instead of simply moving the line along, administration was silencing student voices. Whether or not this was the intention, it effectively shut down students who may have been eager to (quickly) discuss relevant topics with the new president. Furthermore, the reception gave the impression that certain student groups were more important than others. Namely, athletics. While typical students were asked to shake the president’s hand, exchange a few pleasantries, and walk away, full athletic teams were allowed to step on stage for selfies and professional photos. VanAken’s love of sports is no secret, considering his past position as an Athletic Director. However, this should not have colored the event so heavily. Athletics are an important part of most colleges, but the heavy emphasis during VanAken’s speech and again during the meet-and-greet gave the impression that other groups were not quite as important. There was no mention of diversity or inclusion in VanAken’s welcome speech, and cultural student organizations were not particularly favored. The same goes for Greek organizations, service clubs, and students who actually just go to class here. Instead of an inclusive look at EC, VanAken lauded the major teams in his speech, and paused for the aforementioned photos without question. The reception wasn’t a total loss, and many students were at least able to get a feel for who our new president will be. But next time administration wants to connect with students, they need it to be about ALL students. This can be as simple as holding luncheons with different types of groups, such as cultural organizations, to connect with more sub-groups on campus. All it takes is an extended hand and a slight change in language to get more students on board with the future of EC, let’s not reserve participation for the students who score points.