Editors Blog: Governance Transparency
OUSG and university leadership must address transparency issues from governance to students
On Thursday, Feb. 21, an email was sent from Vice President and Chief of Staff Kristine Robbins regarding the university’s search for a new provost and vice president for academic affairs (VPAA). The email informed its recipients that three finalists for the position have been selected for campus interviews, beginning Feb. 28.
While the original distribution list for the email is unknown, one thing became very clear: the email was not sent out to students.
On Monday, Feb. 25, Executive Assistant to the Office of the President Caroline Viebranz sent an email reminding campus of the open forum for Provost and VPAA Candidate Wendy Sherman Heckler on Thursday, Feb. 28. However, an original email from Viebranz about the open forum was never sent to students.
The university’s social media has been silent regarding the provost search, and few further attempts have been made to inform students about the process.
A similar instance occurred regarding a campus update from President John Comerford on Jan. 11. Information included in the update addressed the United Methodist Church's statements on homosexuality, the campus center renovation and former Gov. John Kasich's involvement at Otterbein. Once again, this information was not made available to students.
After a complaint was directed at Otterbein University Student Government (OUSG) President Jeremy Paul, Paul sent an email to all students regarding the update four days later.
At the time the update was provided to students, it contained the first official statement from university leadership saying the campus center renovation was being pushed back an entire year from its original start date, despite scheduled tuition increases for 2019-20.
T&C Media coverage last year of the campus center renovation and tuition increases sparked outrage from students on social media. Clearly, this was and remains an issue students care deeply about. So why was the information kept from students for so long?
According to OUSG bylaws, OUSG is responsible for promoting strong relationships and communication in the Otterbein community and providing a means of expressing student opinions and concerns regarding campus issues.
In terms of OUSG-specific information, the office of secretary is the primary medium through which OUSG will communicate announcements and information to Otterbein students. It is the secretary's responsibility to approve all OUSG communications with the Otterbein community.
Though the spring semester is now in its eighth week, OUSG has not uploaded any of their meeting minutes for 2019 on their Ozone webpage to date. The email Paul sent out on Jan. 15 following the campus update from Comerford was the last time students received information from OUSG regarding campus issues. This was six weeks ago.
It is the responsibility and duty of university leadership and OUSG to better inform students of issues directly relevant to the student body. Failed communication regarding the campus center renovation's delay and the provost search is, frankly, unacceptable.