EDITORIAL: Diversity recruitment does not end with students: hire more diverse faculty and staff

This school year, Elmhurst College welcomed the most diverse freshman class in campus history. It is no surprise the student body is getting more diverse, with student activity groups on campus one of the best examples of this inclusion.

But the buck does not stop there. For the campus to have real inclusion, it needs to start top-down from faculty and staff first.

Studies show that when students have role models that look like them, they have a better chance at success. For example, female undergraduate students are more likely to take a leadership role when a female role model is present. A diverse range of faculty has proven to be beneficial for everyone, not just underrepresented groups, as it allows for robust discussions with a variety of perspectives in the classroom, preparing all students for the real world.

Good representation is when any student in any department has an equally likely chance of having a class with a white straight male teacher as a black lesbian teacher.

Will nursing students meet Latinx nursing faculty or even a male professor? Will the computer science department have more female professors? There may be some select diverse faculty in these programs, but while it is guaranteed that all students will have white professors, it is not guaranteed or likely that all students will have a minority professor.

There are currently departments on campus with little to no representation of minority groups. How does the school expect to retain students of color, other minority groups, or give white students diverse perspectives with a lack of representative faculty and staff?  

Race and gender is just the most obvious piece of the puzzle because it is an identity we can see or assume. The school is launching the new True Colors Community, a resident community “specifically to support students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community.” It is great that a space like this is being developed, but what happens when queer students cannot see themselves among faculty? What happens when they feel they have no authority to turn to when something goes wrong?

Diversity needs to be seen in higher administration as well. When students walk into the Blume Boardroom in the Frick Center, they are greeted by large portraits of former EC presidents—12 white men and one white-passing man of color. We would love students to one day walk in and see a woman, a person of color, or someone else from an underrepresented group depicted on those walls, but that will only be a reality if the campus starts to invest in diverse recruitment all around, not just with students.

Without representation, the diverse school EC fetishizes will not exist outside of a given year’s freshman class. This is to say that students may enroll, but many will drop out. It is just common sense to assume that if a student desires resources and does not receive them, they will leave.

EC puts heavy focus on recruiting a diverse student body; why should the recruitment of a diverse faculty and staff be any different?

EDITORIAL: Retire the unfabulous FAB

The Fee Allocation Board (FAB), composed entirely with SGA members, is a biased and archaic way of providing funding for student groups. FAB was created to so that student groups would be given funding from an entity totally independent of SGA.

Clearly, that is not happening.

FAB was created in 2011 as the solution to a funding conflict of interest between The Leader and SGA and was intended to be a place where a diverse range of students determined budgets based on student proposals without SGA. Students from any groups could apply and student organizations would make appeals to ask for a specific amount of funding.

This year, each of those students is a member of SGA, which defeats the purpose of FAB. FAB needs to be abolished and replaced with an improved way of allocating student funds.

One proposal has been a media board where student media on campus would receive funding from an entity separate from SGA. The media board would be made up of students, teachers, and a professional who represent the different parts of campus that make up media (English, digital media, etc.). This way, the entities that comment on the campus and SGA are not going to pressed by the bias that these organizations may hold against them.

Beyond just the Leader, FAB is never necessarily fair to any organization. Students on SGA hold biases, and representation in SGA is not equal across campus groups. Throughout the year, SGA has funded certain groups that directly correlate to the majors and interests of the members represented on SGA.

For example, several music majors serve on SGA and approved a request for recognition for the Elmhurst American String Teachers Association chapter even though the group only affects a small amount of students. In another proposal, which was submitted by Pre-Law Club, several SGA members who were also members of Mock Trial, expressed disfavor of the club because they felt it went against their own activity group, Mock Trial.

Both of those groups above were eventually approved by SGA, and we are not saying that they should not have earned recognition or funding—we are simply highlighting this as some examples of bias within SGA that have come up this year. These are just some examples, but if there is bias in SGA, what insurance is there that any of that bias goes away in FAB when there is even less representation? All students have preferences, associations, interests, and friends on campus that, if not carefully balanced, can inform which students receive funding and which do not.

SGA has demonstrated bias throughout the entire year. Whether it is against the press or in favor of only select student groups, the impact is obvious, and there is nothing that suggests it would stop with FAB.

Since FAB has diverted so much from its original vision, the obvious solution is to abolish it and develop a system of student funding with representatives from multiple majors and clubs. Additionally, student media should have a media board or some form of funding totally independent of the school and SGA to avoid an inherent conflict of interest.

EDITORIAL: Student Government Association (SGA) should revisit legislator meetings

The last of SGA’s monthly legislature meetings is this Thursday, wrapping up the year with cookies and sandwiches provided.

At the end of the spring 2018 term, SGA ratified a new constitution. Part of that constitution introduced legislator meetings, which are monthly meetings that a representative or legislator from every student organization on campus must attend, or have their funding/ability to apply to Co-Op cut.

SGA has long been struggling to connect with its constituents with the lack of attendance from the student body in SGA meetings. The legislator meetings have been the first time people who are not a part of SGA are consistently coming to meetings.

However, these meetings are a failed attempt at a great idea. Crowded, unproductive meetings are not the way to bring campus organizations together, and certainly not worth cutting funding over.

There is no need to call for abolition, but there is a need for drastic reform.

Why does every single organization come to one meeting rather than dividing groups up throughout the month? Why is SGA not being more proactive in sponsoring and attending other groups events, but threatening to defund organizations who do not obey?

The meetings have been about things such as how to order food from Chartwells, how to reserve a space, and how to apply for Cooperative Funding (Co-Op). This may be great for new organizations who may not be familiar with the existing processes, but certainly not necessary for everyone.

This year, organizations, including SGA, faced extreme cuts to their budget, and unfunded organizations are facing harsher Co-Op guidelines than they have in the recent past. Is additional pressure really the best SGA can do to better our campus?

SGA is using strong arm politics to blackmail people into attending something they simply do not care about. We get it. Student apathy has been one of the biggest issues on this campus since forever, and there has not really been an effective solution for it. But bad politics is bad politics, and this method is simply not working nor does it promote unity.

Disorganization is the enemy of all student organizations. Whether it is within the organization, whether it is conflicting programming with other groups, or even just poor marketing. However, it is not impossible to beat.

Just last week, every Greek organization worked together with Student Affairs to organize one cohesive week of programming. The cultural identity groups have been doing the same through the Coalition of Multicultural Engagement.

There are models on this campus of what true unity among organizations can look like, and none of them involve threats of cutting budgets. Not only does SGA have examples to learn from, they also have the resources to do better. What they do not have is an excuse for wasting our time thus far, and that needs to be changed.

EDITORIAL:

Recently, one of our own editors at The Leaders returned to her dorm to find some of her belongings stolen. Last semester, an out of state man broke into a dorm, waited in the bathroom overnight  and threatened a student.

Elmhurst is a relatively safe campus, but these breakings are becoming increasingly common and they seem to have a trend to them—students being too nice and opening doors for people.

While everyone should be smarter and aware of their surroundings, it is simply not sustainable and safe to rely on students to be proactive as the main security protocol for residence halls.

Student possessions, and possibly there safety is being threatened by inadequate dorm security policy and that needs to change.

The fact that there is no record of who comes and goes in a building, and no way of knowing whether or not a person is a resident or not.

Security should consider having a representative, whether it be a hall coordinator, R.A., or even an officer stationed at the front of every hall that checks the I.D.’s of those who enter, and requires that non-residents sign in and out of the building.

Protocols like this are common among other colleges and require little resources, just one attentive figure in each dorm hall.

Currently, security’s best defense against people who do not belong in dorms coming into dorms is a reminder to students that they shouldn’t let strangers in. It is not their fault that this defense is flimsy, but something needs to be done to remedy it.

There would be difficult obstacles to overcome when implementing a check in system, where to place a monitor in more cramped or back entrances.

The other difficulty would be the traffic of students coming in and out of the buildings that would now need to take time to show ID’s. However, many large schools such as Depaul University which has over eight times as many students as EC use these exact security practices and more, such as keeping the ID’s of nonresidents with the security guard and only allowing up to two guests per resident.

One might say that there are already protocols in place for our protection, such as only 2 guests per resident or a 3 night maximum for overnight guests. This is good, but the only way to enforce these rules is a very attentive R.A. who already has other responsibilities or a student willing to tell on their peers.

Several years ago, The Leader conducted a test with a reporter who did not live on campus to see if he could gain access into any residence life on campus. He got access to every dorm room with ease simply by asking to be let in.

We now know that there could be man waiting in a residence hall bathroom overnight. We no longer have an excuse to think we are safe because we are not, and solutions need to be explored, and implemented before it is too late.

EDITORIAL: Stop complaining and join us

It is time that the critics of The Leader put their money where their mouth is. If anyone has an issue with the content of The Leader, come write for us. If you think we are too liberal or too negative or too biased for some reason, come join our staff.

Time and time again, whether on social media or in formal petitions, the student body has demanded transparency from the school. However, when The Leader does its job and reports information that would otherwise be kept hidden from students, it is met with backlash.

Our staff is small. We would love to cover everything, but we do not have the resources to do so. If you see a deficit, or see a group being misrepresented, you have an opportunity to be the solution by joining us. If you want to let the campus know about something, submit a Letter to Editor or audition for a column, but complaining is not beneficial for any party.

Across the nation the press is under fire, and even the president has declared the press the “enemy of the people.” Many pass judgement on media simply because the content of the stories seem to be negative. But the number one job of the press is to deliver the truth to the public, whether it is seen as good or bad.

Unfortunately, many people do not understand this, and if the story does not agree with them, the press is the one who faces backlash instead when they are simply the messengers.

This national sentiment against the press has even come to our campus with The Leader, which has faced threats of defunding and papers being vandalized and even stolen.

We are not alone, for other colleges have faced backlash as well. Loyola University has passed a policy requiring the campus newspaper to contact the marketing department who then writes all quotes related to university affairs, regardless of the department or position of the subject of the quote—something that is alarming because it prevents objective reporting and censors the press.

Another campus newspaper, the Hilltop Views from St. Edwards University, had around 2,000 copies of their paper stolen following a front page story about a former professor being accused of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church.

No member of the press, including college media, should be subjected to this type of treatment. It suppresses free speech, but more importantly, why not be constructive and help make the organization you are criticizing better?

Do not get it wrong, we appreciate and welcome comments from our readers, and accountability is important for all press organizations; we are simply asking that instead of criticizing everything you think is wrong with the media, actually do something about it and join us to facilitate the change you wish to see.

EDITORIAL: Pros and cons of changing the EC's name

The Leader editorial board is divided on this issue. Check out our pros and cons for changing the name.

Pro (Students: 62%, Alumni: 31%)

Elmhurst College should change its name to University. Whether it is Elmhurst University, or University of Elmhurst, it is a decision that will positively impact the school.

Regardless of the facilities a school offers,  regardless of the employment rates of graduates, the name of a school will create a first impression of a school. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be that universities are the prestigious and good schools, and colleges are schools that are lacking.

To make matters worse, in other countries, universities are four-year degree-offering institutions, and colleges are schools more akin to community colleges. There is nothing wrong with a community college setting, but the word “college” has little international appeal, which is a main argument presented by President VanAken.

Even domestic students and faculty at other American schools mistake EC to be a community college or a commuter college (no dorms).

Why should EC suffer at the hands of misconceptions? If EC is possibly compromising its enrollment from domestic and international students, why should the BOT not vote in favor a possible solution?

What makes these misconceptions more ridiculous and more damaging to EC specifically is the fact that EC already is a university, according to the Carnegie Foundation’s classification system.

Calling ourselves a college is not only a possible hindrance to enrollment but simply inaccurate. It is not logically sound.

Furthermore, the question to change the EC’s name to university has been an age-old discussion under every president. This question now seems inevitable with already being classified as a university and large campus support, especially from students. It is now or never.

BOT should make the decision to change EC’s name to University, and we should embrace this change to further the institution.

CON (Students: 38%, Alumni: 69%)

Elmhurst College should not be changing its name. Our college reputation has not hurt us and is a part of who we are. We have been a college for nearly 150 years; it just would not be right to go into that anniversary not as “Elmhurst College.”

It seems strange that the school is making a push for increased enrollment, specifically among our international population, when we are having few issues with enrollment.

The school is observing a period of record breaking enrollment rates with the freshman class being the largest and most diverse in EC’s history. We cannot necessarily attribute this increased enrollment to the name, but the “Elmhurst College” brand has appeal, and to change that could put that at risk.

Why jeopardize who we are for the sake of a population of students who do not yet attend this institution?

One must consider the cost of rebranding. Although there is no official estimates, one can assume that the cost of reissuing diplomas to all graduates and rebranding all signage and merchandise will be a lot more than a slice of pizza.

EC has an identity, and that identity is as a college. People came here for a reason; to change that would be to disregard what many people found appealing about EC in the first place, especially when they are left with the bill.

In the same way people prejudge universities as better institutions on the basis of their name, many assume colleges to be smaller, more comfortable environments where creating deeper relationships and getting around is much easier.

Whether or not it is true is beside the point, when high schoolers apply, the name is the first thing they see, and if those looking for a smaller and calmer environment, a university can be an instant turn off.

All stakeholders in EC, especially the BOT, have to look at why they invested in the first place. A name is what represents the very core of a schools identity, and ask if changing that for the sake of one or two stakeholders is worth compromising that.



EDITORIAL: All buildings should be held to the same standard of livability and accessibility

Elmhurst College should ensure that all spaces are accessible for every member of its community.

Students with mobility disabilities have limited options for accessible spaces. Even in buildings where elevators are present, there are still small or heavy doors and narrow hallways to get in and out of the elevator, making it difficult to access.

On top of that, some spaces have all of the above issues, and do not even have an elevator.

When space in Cureton and West Hall fills up, some students find themselves in a dorm with wheelchair accessibility, such as in Schick, which has a ramp, but also has small rooms, no air conditioning, and only one accessible floor.

Some faculty offices are only accessible by stairs, and some classrooms are cramped and require extra tables to accommodate students, and at that point, space becomes limited.

Some classrooms are set up on risers that would require a wheelchair user to sit directly in front of the teacher or to lift their chair over a step to sit at a desk.

Another example that hits close to home is The Leader newsroom, which is located in the basement of Dinkmeyer. If an editor or a staff member who uses a wheelchair wanted to join The Leader, they would not be able to access our office.

Students deserve an education that goes above and beyond to ensure their equal inclusion and opportunity to succeed. Is this not what the school proudly boasts in their mission?

Even if these standards are acceptable within the American Disabilities Act’s rules, we believe EC should be responsible for more.

Our handbook mentions disabilities and accessibilities, and it puts the burden of requesting “reasonable accommodations” on the student.

While EC cannot anticipate everything, the handbook should mandate certain guaranteed protections, resources, and processes for students with disabilities beyond “reasonable accomodations.”

The school covers several bases and stays within the parameters of the law, but we should hold the school to the highest standard possible.

Our living and learning environments are limited to only certain populations of the campus, and that is not fair. It is not enough that certain buildings have elevators; the entire campus needs to accessible beyond the requirements.

The school should explore the possibility of creating a more inclusive environment to live up to its own expectations of inclusion.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn comfortably, and EC must be held accountable for ensuring this beyond the bare minimum.