University should be more forthcoming

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UW Oshkosh continues to be tight-lipped about recent matters that have occurred on campus. This lack of transparency is worrisome, especially because these matters directly impact the UW Oshkosh community.

Although the University may not be allowed to disclose certain details to the campus community, they should try and be as open as possible when the information regards students.

Specific incidents in which the University has not been forthcoming enough with the community have centered around the UW System filing a suit against former Chancellor Richard Wells regarding the UWO Foundation. Since the initial email from Chancellor Andrew Leavitt, students have not been updated on the status of the Foundation, which houses a variety of funds for things such as scholarships and athletic programs.

The University has also been unclear about information involving certain staff members, such as business professor Willis Hagen and cross country and track and field coach Eamon McKenna.

The University needs to find a way to better disclose information regarding these types of situations to students and other members of the UWO community, as this information oftentimes pertains to them.

Foundation scholarships directly impact students who depend on that money to attend UWO, and these students should have the right to at least be given basic information about these matters that affect them and their education.

Back at the beginning of the semester when the UW System initially filed the lawsuit against Wells, the University addressed the UWO community through an email from Chancellor Andrew Leavitt explaining the issue.

Leavitt’s email provided transparency when he immediately reported former UWO Foundation Art Rathjen’s involvement in the matter. Communication like this needs to happen more on campus.

The University has not given any more information to the UWO community since the initial email was sent out months ago.

Although there are rules and barriers in place by which the University needs to abide when addressing sensitive topics like these, the UWO community should not be kept in the dark. A little more communication within these matters could go a long way when it comes to maintaining trust and understanding within the UWO community. Even telling students that they are unable to release certain information would be a step in the right direction.

An institution or a person usually looks worse when they have to backpedal and deflect when something bad happens, rather when they tell the public outright. Transparency resonates more with consumers than secrecy. If the University comes out and tells the campus what’s going on and is upfront about it, the campus could be more trusting.

The University may have their hands tied regarding the Foundation as to not impede the ongoing investigation, but if there is any information that they are able to tell students, they need to do so.

According to UWO Chief Communications Officer Jamie Ceman, there is nothing to currently update students on.

“The University wants to be transparent and provide information to the campus community on the status of the UWO Foundation,” Ceman said. “If I’m able to provide information on any of these topics, I will reach out as soon as I can.”

It is nice to hear the University plans to update us when they can, but when will this update actually take place?

The University has also remained quiet on situations involving the leaves of absence of Hagen and McKenna.

Hagen has not taught classes since being pulled from one earlier in the semester. Associate Dean of the Business Department Barbara Rau said she could not provide any information about the situation, as did Public Records Custodian Kate McQuillan.

Students in the business class that Hagen was pulled out of were not given any details about his removal. When Hagen was taken out of class, it should have been known to students the next day via a campus message.

McKenna has not coached since March. UWO Director of Athletics Darryl Sims emailed cross country and track runners saying McKenna would be out of office until further notice and later said he could not speak on the matter, as did Ceman.

“Personnel matters cannot be commented on,” Ceman said.

The campus deserves to know whether the employee is gone due to personal issues, conduct or because they are a danger.

It is unprofessional of the leaders of the athletics department, Sims and Assistant Athletic Director Vicci Stimac, to be nontransparent about controversial topics within the department. The athletics department leaders are refraining from sharing important information regarding McKenna.

This lack of communication from the athletics department is difficult not only for student athletes, but also for reporters who do their best to showcase athletics. This problem may never be resolved if the leaders of the athletic department fail to share this information.

The lack of transparency involving these incidents can cause the UWO community to imagine the worst. When something of substance happens on campus, the faculty and student base deserve to know without having to guess which rumors are true.

The University needs to be more open with its students on matters that affect all members of the UWO community in order for any affected individuals to remain informed on these situations. Students deserve to be kept in the loop on these topics because they can have a direct impact on their college experiences and education.

If the administration is not keeping the campus informed on this information, they are not doing their job properly.