The latest debacle over Pines by the JEC is really only a sign of how ineffectual the JEC has become. Further, the administrations of CSB/SJU, specifically the offices of Student Development, have created an environment where the JEC has little to no oversight. The purpose of this letter is not to argue that Sammy Adams’ music is or isn’t in line with our Benedictine values, but rather this letter is to help put this particular problem in the context of the bigger problems at CSB/SJU within the JEC and school administration.
To begin, I need to catch you up on some secret history. Two years ago, the senates of CSB and SJU were locked in a conflict with the administrations of each campus. This conflict was over the allocation process of funds to the JEC. The JEC’s budget comes mostly from the activity fee. In the past, the JEC had to get its money from the school senates and get its budget approved by those senates.
However, the administration demanded that the JEC no longer have to request money from the senates, and they would get the block of their funding at the start of the year. Although the senates did indeed pass the resolution to allow the JEC to become independent, this vote was under dubious conditions. Many of my personal friends happened to have been on the senate at that time. I learned from these senators that the administration was going to force the separation of the JEC whether the senates liked it or not. In fact, the administration bullied the senates with vague threats in order to get the vote that they wanted.
So what does all of that have to do with Sammy Adams and the Pines? Everything. Ever since the JEC separated from the senates, they have had absolutely no student oversight. They answer only to the administration and operate in secrecy. When a number of senators last year requested that the JEC make their budget public, the JEC refused to do so. So why does this matter? Because now the only institution that exercises authority over the JEC is the office of Student Development.
Further, it is apparent that the process by which the JEC chooses events and artists is broken. Pines isn’t the only case of this, it just happens to be the most expensive. For example, a few weeks ago the JEC hosted a Dave Mathews cover band which had a student attendance of at most 40 people. Without student oversight, the JEC will only continue to be an ineffectual organization.
Finally, it is not the JEC’s place to apologize for this mishap in the first place. The student members of the JEC are hardworking individuals. However, they are not event planning experts, and the secret environment in which the JEC operates does not help them. The people who should be apologizing are the heads of the offices of Student Development.
Instead, however, the JEC is being used as a scapegoat by the administration for a decision that was clearly forced by administration personnel. Why is it that the student organization has to take the blame, but the administration gets to provide the decision rationale? This isn’t an idle complaint, the school administrations need to acknowledge that there is a problem somewhere in their process and fix it. Don’t blame the students.