When President Paul Lamont Thompson resigned his post at Kalamazoo College in 1948, he left behind what Emeriti Trustee Marlene Francis called “a troubled institution.” Questions swirled around the campus about tight finances, scarce resources, and declining moral. Professor Emeritus Robert Stauffer also highlights this lack of leadership in his research on the college, adding that it led to a student strike that same year.
As I read Alicia Pettys’ March 9 column in The Index I could not help but think of 1948 – not because I want to see us repeat it, but because I think that “K” is better today than during the events of 1948.
In my inaugural address almost a year ago, I called on all members of this campus to work together as equal participants in the boiling pot of ideas we call Kalamazoo. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators working together is my vision of President Allan Hoben’s “Fellowship in Learning,” and it is my belief that only cooperation will make us at home on this fair Arcadian hill.
Unfortunately, administrator and student tempers have flared over multiple issues, and the pot has boiled over multiple times this year.
As Alicia pointed out, the student body has become extremely frustrated with the lack of transparency on the part of the college. This is nothing new. I had the opportunity the other day to sit down with a friend from the Class of 2009, and he told me all about the trials and tribulations that came with the Upjohn Library renovation several years ago. Much like Angell Field, the Library renovation had to happen, but students need to be more aware of the process and involved in it.
To say transparency is solely a “K” issue would be unfair to our administrators. It is a systemic issue that I hear about from my colleagues at other institutions as well. However, I know that “K” students are ready to change the norm, and I hope our partners in the administration are ready to change it, too.
In an effort to show that we are serious, last quarter Student Commission set a two-pronged agenda focused on student interests and we stuck to it. The first prong focused on our Student Code of Conduct, particularly event policies, the hookah policy, and the placement and execution of Good Samaritan and medical amnesty procedures within existing policies.
The second prong pushed us as a Commission to examine campus housing and the overall sense of community here at “K.”
While we will certainly continue our discussions of the Code of Conduct this quarter, it is my hope that we will do a better job fostering a sense of community this spring.
In fact, I cannot think of a better time to foster community than spring quarter. It is during spring that we as a campus are whole again. Most of our juniors have returned from their far-away studies, and the sun draws out our better moods. Love is in the air. C.A.T., Crystal Ball, and, of course, Frelon, allow us to express ourselves. Building Blocks, now at Western Michigan University, allows us the opportunity to engage with Kalamazoo’s various neighborhoods. Finally, as is forever etched on the front of Trowbridge Hall, we learn that “the end of learning is gracious living.”
I encourage you to fully embrace this quarter – there’s nothing else like it. Further, Student Commission will do its best to help.
In addition to further carrying out our agenda, Student Commission will host our annual Triathlon on Saturday, May 14, and I both challenge and encourage you to participate. I also challenge each of Student Commission’s Secretaries to find a way to integrate their work with other campus activities, and I challenge each and every one of you to participate fully on our campus this quarter.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Student Commission will continue to provide you up-to-date information about tuition and financial aid. We also hope to partner with the President, the Business Office, and Financial Aid to help you better understand any changes to the state and federal budgets. If there is one thing all of us can agree on, it is that a Kalamazoo College education must remain affordable for our students. It is in this spirit that I believe we can come together again and continue arm-in-arm as we strive to make this hill a home for all.
President for Student Commission