Students know. If the department cuts and the professors nervously whispering in the hallways aren’t enough indication, students would find out anyway. After all, this is our home, and we can tell when our home is in serious trouble.
The majority of us live on this campus, steeped in the Wittenberg community. The unity that the university provides is one of the strongest I have ever experienced. People here at Witt genuinely care about each other, and I believe that we, as a campus, take pride in the identity that our small school creates. But the strength of this community means that when something shatters the group’s trust, we will fight to support our community.
While Wittenberg’s administration hasn’t hidden the fact that we’re having budget problems, they haven’t exactly been up front about it either. Students know there’s a financial problem and that huge cuts are being made, but no one seems to understand where these cuts are taking place. We may joke about the university’s financial situation (“We should get street lights that don’t turn off.” “Maybe if we had money!”), but the reality is that students have no idea what goes on in the top floors of Recitation Hall. But this seems counterintuitive. Should the people living on this campus be the ones who most need to know the issues affecting it?
And it’s not just students who are concerned. On this small of a campus, I’ve been to multiple professors’ houses multiple times, and know some of them by first name. My professors are my mentors and my friends, and I take interest in their welfare. These are the people that make my experience here at Witt meaningful. So it terrifies me that they may be forced to make some tough choices. As a student, it’s rather unsettling – as though anything could happen out of the blue – and I’d rather know the hard truth than be scared of an unknown. Aren’t the scariest monsters in movies the ones we never see?
What’s more, I care what happens to this school. I have had a transformative four years here at Witt, and I would cry to think that future students will not have the same opportunity. I don’t want to chastise Wittenberg for past wrongs; I want to build it up for future success. But students can’t help with that process if we don’t know the reality of the problems facing the institution.
So stop trying to keep things on the down low. It’s no longer an option. The only way to work through this is with an open, honest conversation, one that everyone can be a part of. Students know, and students care. Excluding us from the knowledge and the decision making process is sure only to make people angry. Because we deserve to be part of its future.