Upon my acceptance to the College, I encountered the same question from relatives, friends of the family and coworkers: “Which college of New Jersey are you going to?”
Most people it seems are still in the dark about the name change. Many need to be told “Trenton State College” to be able to recognitize the institution.
As the name change happened in 1996, years before my time at the College, I was unable to witness firsthand the outrage of students, faculty and alumni alike. However, into my second semester here, my fellow freshmen and I received a taste of the same thing in both the logo change and academic transformative change.
These are topics which have been driven into the ground with debate. However, fresh issues connect these events and some other changes being implemented within the administration.
These issues are power and consent.
For all of these changes, the slap in the face was the lack of consent among the campus community. Both were done very quietly, and announced after the fact, limiting campus voices.
With transformative change, there were meager opportunities for students and faculty to express concerns.
The catch was that all of these opportunities for dissent came after the policy was announced for the next semester, making any kind of questioning irrelevant and nothing more than a planned public relations event.
The fact remains that we are getting 20 percent less instruction time for our money, and “transformed” seems to only mean reading an extra book or completing a longer paper.
This is power, the ability to make major changes without consent. The administration wields this power with arrogance.
Which brings us to this year’s underhanded dealings. Without any campus input whatsoever, the administration is restructuring Campus Life, a department essential for anyone working with campus organizations.
The restructuring of Campus Life has recently been announced to the student body by Student Government Association (SGA). This restructuring will cause many changes, including the reassignment of some student organization’s advisers.
The power motif again surfaces with this burgeoning debacle. Decisions and changes are being made behind closed doors, with the campus in the dark. Any attempt they make will simply be a waste of breath, as the changes are already in the works.
To add insult to injury, the attitude conveyed by most members of the administration to representatives of the student body inquiring about the issue have been that they can do whatever they want because the students will do nothing about it.
And because of this conception of the students, the administration has felt they can do whatever the hell they feel like doing because they know they’ll get away with it.
This is the final straw. Too much has been done behind our backs and without our consent. In no other realm of society is this kind of abuse of power tolerated. In politics people form interest groups, write letters and protest to have their voice heard. In the workplace, people join unions to increase the democracy of the office, place of business, or jobsite.
But yet we are made to feel like we simply have to accept whatever is thrown our way, even if it is not in our best interest. And we’re paying good money for this?
College is supposed to be a microcosm of the so called “real world.” I would like to believe that the world functions more democratically, but perhaps I am being naive and our College administrators are simply showing us how society actually works.
As members of the campus community, we need to recognize these power trends. They are not isolated issues, such as logo or name changes, but rather part of a larger picture. We are not doormats to be walked upon, nor puppets to be manipulated for the gain of others.
I urge the administration to help facilitate the same facets of societal democracy on our campus.
This entails actively striving to incorporate all members of our community into the decision making process, including students, faculty and campus workers.
The hubris that has been shown over the past years is utterly amazing, and if not curbed, will cause irreparable damage to the intellectual and democratic fabric on which the nature of our institution is based.