In a few days, Wittenberg students will begin to see signs outside campus offices that identify the administrators, faculty and staff within as people who are not associated with secret societies.
“I am choosing, along with other faculty and staff, to clearly identify myself as not a member of a secret society,” Cynthia Richards, English professor, said.
“My chief motivation is my students,” Richards said. “These students have expressed a perception, and I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but a perception that there will be some negative consequence if they talk openly about secret societies in a public setting.”
Richards, Dean of Students Casey Gill and sociology professor Keith Doubt also have organized a forum in a question and answer style format that will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 16, to discuss the impact secret societies have on campus.
“I would like to create an atmosphere on campus where no one fears discussing secret societies,” Richards said.
Doubt and Richards both discussed their takes as to why right now is the time to speak out.
“I talked to President Erickson about this; I talked to President Joyner about this; I talked to Chris Duncan, the previous provost , about this; I talked to Mary Jo Zembar about this; and they listen, but it stops there. So, it just seems it’s kind of high time to say that this is an issue on campus. That just can’t be denied,” Doubt said.
Richards summed up her reason for identifying as not a member of secret society.
“I think historically that there have been secret societies on campus which include faculty, staff and administrators, which makes it all the more important that we have this conversation; and also, I have come to realize that as a campus, we have acquired a reputation about having secret societies.
“I think that all of those factors, all of the above, points to the value and the need of open communication about secret societies on campus,” Richards said.
Gill shared some thoughts about secret societies registering as student organizations.
“I would be happy for any of them to come to Student Development and to think creatively of how they could register as student groups,” Gill said. “[Secret societies] have been around for a long time at Witt, so if they are providing a valuable experience for our students, then we need to be able to capture that in a meaningful way like all of our other student organizations.”
Doubt added a closing statement discussing the reasons to bring this issue to campus light.
“We hope that by having this discussion, Wittenberg can be a better place. We care for Wittenberg as an institution and for the people of Wittenberg.
“We hope having this discussion will make Wittenberg a better institution. We think this discussion could make this a better and more confident institution,” Doubt said.
The following faculty/staff members plan to post the sign identifying themselves as not affiliated with a secret society:
Career Services: Wendy Smiseck (Director)
Chemistry Department: Pete Hanson
Dean of Students: Casey Gill
Director of Athletics: Gary Williams
English Department: Cynthia Richards, Lori Askeland, ShaDawn Battle, D’Arcy Fallon, Scot Hinson, Robin Inboden, Ian MacDonald, Kate Polak and Christina Reynolds (Administrative Assistant)
Fraternity and Sorority Life: Carol Nickoson (Director)
International Education: JoAnn Bennett (Director) and Amy Parks (Administrative Assistant)
Languages Department: Ruth Hoff
Librarian: Suzanne Smailes
History Department: Amy Livingstone
Multicultural Student Programs: John Young (Director)
Physics Department: Jeremiah Williams
Political Science Department: Staci Rhine and Bin Yu
Religion Department: Barbara Kaiser and Jennifer Oldstone-Moore
Residence Life: Sherry Sadowski (Associate Dean)
Student Activities: Elizabeth Ames (Director)
Student Conduct: Jessica Hoelting (Director; Deputy Title IX Coordinator)
Sociology Department: Keith Doubt, David Nibert and Nona Moskowitz
Theater Department: Patrick Reynolds