Ineffective top-down communication the most evident issue with honors program

The goal of this board and editorial isn’t to criticize the honors program — we want that to be clear to our readers. Instead, what we would like to bring to the attention of those involved in the planning and implementation of this program is the frustration felt by the student body relating to a general lack of communication.

We applaud faculty and staff in charge of the honors program for working with ASWU to put together a forum Thursday night to answer questions raised by students. Yet this board feels that could have been executed more effectively. Emails informing the student body about the forum were not sent out to students until Tuesday, only two days before the forum took place. Upper administration was made aware of student concerns about the program Wednesday, Feb. 29 during an ASWU meeting and the forum was tentatively planned by Thursday, March 1. This board is concerned about why information was not disseminated sooner.

Students tend to be apathetic; this board recognizes that, but that should not be an excuse for a lack of effort to communicate. Given the impact this program has not only on academic life, but also on residence life, measures should have been taken to ensure students were informed. Although ASWU is in place to act as a pathway of communication between upper administration and the student body and vice versa, this lack of communication does not solely fall on the shoulders of ASWU. It is the opinion of this board that information was not properly given to the ASWU assembly pertaining to details related to the honors program. ASWU meeting minutes show the honors program was discussed in little detail Oct. 26, by President Beck Taylor in response to a question posed by an assembly member. According to the minutes, the first detailed discussion did not take place until Feb. 29, when Taylor returned per the request of student body president Melinda Leavitt.

We recognize it is a nicety and not necessarily a requirement to discuss topics that affect students such as this with student leaders, but when the mode of communication lies heavily with ASWU then it becomes imperative that the assembly know almost as much as faculty and staff if they are to disseminate accurate information. This board believes this method of communicating with students could have been executed more effectively and ways to ensure better communication between ASWU and upper administration should be examined by faculty and staff. The ASWU executive team should also do what it can to remain proactive in the future on issues that affect students.

With all of this said, the honors forum held Thursday was a step in the right direction, but should in no way be looked at as the final step. Conversation held at the forum should be looked at as the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and this kind of dialogue should continue even into next year. If the goal of this program is to shape and mold it as time progresses, faculty and staff in charge of the program need to recognize students will want to continue the discussion as these changes are implemented.

If faculty and staff recognized a need for a program such as this, then we applaud them for acting in a way that filled that need. With that said, Whitworth has been a place that has prided itself on community and unfortunately not including students in the discussion of the honors program creates a stark dichotomy between administration and students. This gap should lessen, not grow, and efforts by faculty and staff involved not only in the honors program, but also other areas of academia and student life should continue in urging student involvement and participation. It is in the university’s best interest if ASWU, administration and other leadership take time to recognize this breakdown in communication and concentrate their efforts on making sure a situation like this does not happen again.

Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority of the opinion of the editorial board, which is made up of five editors.

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