“Our View” is prepared by the Executive board and should be considered the institutional voice of The Record
Megan Flynn, Editor-in-Chief – [email protected]
Hope Mueller, Managing Editor – [email protected]
Meredith Jarchow, Multimedia Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
Brendan Klein, Opinion/Editorial Editor – [email protected]
“Two schools, one community.” We’ve heard that before.
The common catchphrase used by CSB/SJU admission offices to explain and excite prospective students can also present challenges for those within the community. The problem is it becomes difficult not to compare your school to the other one just down the road.
In many ways our schools are similar. Because of this, differences between them stand out. This year has certainly been one with plenty of opportunities to highlight these differences, particularly when it comes to our two presidents.
A criticism of SJU president Michael Hemesath this academic year has been his relative silence on certain issues. One that stands out to us the most was his relative lack of response to students chanting “build that wall” in the Link in February and the subsequent student demonstrations about issues surrounding diversity at CSB/SJU.
We say “relative” because President Hemesath did respond, but not to the degree that CSB president Mary Hinton did. President Hinton went to the demonstration, gave a speech to those in attendance and comforted students who felt uneasy. She has hosted conversations with students about how to address similar issues in the future. President Hemesath wrote an opinion for The Record that said he believes “when St. John’s takes an institutional position on any issue, we run the real risk of stifling debate on campus and within our community.” He ended the piece by saying: “Sometimes no position is truly the best position.”
President Hemesath faced considerable criticism for these comments, and this criticism was likely heightened by the fact that students compared his response to President Hinton’s, which the following week’s opinion writers felt was more supportive of change. Because of the nature of CSB/SJU, we have the opportunity to compare and contrast responses of both presidents more that students at schools with just one. In this case, many students seemed to favor President Hinton’s more active response over President Hemesath’s comparatively more passive one.
This is not to say that the administration at St. Ben’s is flawless.
This May, both the CSB and SJU Boards of Trustees will individually vote to keep or remove student and faculty presence on the respective boards. Collective student sentiment through opinions in The Record, the proposed resolution to the SJU Trustee Board by the St. John’s Senate and general conversations around campus have been in favor of keeping students and faculty on the board; the same sentiment does not appear to be held by either of the administrations.
There has been no apparent public response from President Hemesath or President Hinton on where the institutions stand on this issue. We hope that the presidents would take into consideration the concerns of their constituents, and respond accordingly.
We’ve heard from students and the administration on where they stand on the faculty/student trustee board vote, but The Record staff welcomes opinion pieces from faculty who are passionate about this issue. Your voice is important to us—and it should be a part of the future conversation of CSB/SJU.