Administration needs to embody community, integrity

Can transparency and efficiency coexist on a college campus?

This is the question Guilford College’s administration seems to be grappling with these days. There is a clear disconnect between decisions made by the administration and the student body. That much has been made clear by last semester’s Integrity for Guilford campaign and this semester’s Concerned Alums for Guilford initiative.

While steps have allegedly been made to address concerns, such as the firing of Public Safety officer Ron Stowe, there remains a palpable air of secrecy and suspicion. Administrative figures turning down many interview requests for The Guilfordian is troubling to say the least.

It feels as if a wealth of questions and unsubstantiated rumors run amok with no members of the administration able to answer or dispel any concerns.

It is disheartening to witness a growing rift between students and the governing body. Rumors and hearsay are a poor substitute for true awareness. Admission to Guilford isn’t cheap. People paying the exorbitant fees required to attend should not have to rely on word-of-mouth to be in the know.

But word-of-mouth is easy to start taking as fact in lieu of true knowledge. One student and one teacher, both of whom will remain anonymous, can speak at length to personal fears and borderline conspiracy theories: concerns that the budget crisis is hindering vital departments and a growing sense of animosity directed towards Public Safety. There seems to be a consistent pattern of tension between the administration and those underneath it.

The fact remains, however, that rumors I have encountered are exactly that: rumors. They cannot be reported as fact, but their prevalence suggests a deeper problem. In place of knowing what is going on at the top of the College’s food chain, students and staff take potentially baseless rumors as fact and act based on that.

Community and integrity are two of the core values at Guilford, but I have a difficult time seeing the integrity in turning down requests to speak with the student paper. And I can find little sense of unifying community in having to rely on rumors to get one’s bearings.

From the still-unexplained firings of Sandy Bowles and Jen Agor to the recent call for transparency in Guilford’s investments, that air of mystery remains. There are a lot of questions being asked, and the tight-lipped refusal to address all concerns fosters an atmosphere of distrust.

We, as a community striving for integrity, should not succumb entirely to rumors in place of hard facts. But with an administration not readily supplying said facts, it is difficult to entirely write word-of-mouth off as mere conjecture. There is no easy, pat solution to this issue. The fact that it is an issue to begin with should be the starting point of a campus-wide conversation.