Trinity needs open dialogue with trustees

Following the Tripod’s publishing of an editorial titled “Trinity’s Problem with Transparency,” President Joanne Berger-Sweeney took to Twitter saying, “Disappointed in Tripod claims I have forbidden contact btw Trustees & faculty. 40+ faculty attended trustee meetings last year! Fact check?” The tweet was quite unprofessional for the president of a college. She went on to send the Tripod a letter expressing frustration because the Tripod published the article without “affording me [JBS] or other members of Trinity’s administration an opportunity to provide our perspectives or to correct inaccurate information.”
The claim mentioned in the editorial was made by a faculty member. We gladly informed Berger-Sweeney of this via Twitter, which appears to be her preferred type of communication with the Tripod, but she failed to acknowledge the response. If she is promoting “fair, balanced, and accurate reporting” to audiences, why did she not reach out to the Tripod to clarify these claims? It seems uncharacteristic of Berger-Sweeney to express her frustrations in such a manner before voicing her concerns to the editors.
Berger-Sweeney’s letter also states, “Transparency and open dialogue are of the utmost importance to this administration.” Really? The administration has no problem tweeting “#Students, #Faculty, Staff & #Trustees come together to imagine the future of #LiberalArts & @trinitycollege today!” to demonstrate some degree of transparency, but the tweet is misleading.
To suggest that students attend Board of Trustee meetings is inaccurate. Students are cherry picked by someone in the administration it seems, although it’s not very clear who makes the selections. These students were not invited to observe the BOT meeting and ask questions, they were simply asked to participate in a student panel from 10:15-11:30 on Friday, Mar. 4th. A student who participated in the panel said that the questions asked were general, and that the students did not ask trustees any questions.
In light of abundant student criticism of decisions being made by the trustees, one would think that an open dialogue between trustees and students would be made available. It is not rare for the administration to reference our peer institutions in the NESCAC as examples to look up to, so maybe the administration should take a look at how Wesleyan facilitates communication between their trustees and students.
Every single scheduled Board of Trustees meeting until 2019 is available on Wesleyan’s version of Trinity Today. Trinity does not list its Board of Trustees meetings on the public calendar. This may seem minor, but it prevents students from taking action on issues they are passionate about at Trinity. For example, around 100 Wesleyan students staged a protest at their most recent Board of Trustees meeting to encourage the university to divest their endowment from fossil fuels. Without fair notice of when Board of Trustees meetings occur, it is difficult for students to take action. Additionally, Wesleyan students were given the opportunity to participate in a forum with trustees after the official meeting took place. If all Trinity students, not just the ones cherry picked for the panel, are given the opportunity to have a discussion with trustees then the trustees would be more up to date with what students are feeling. If such dialogue doesn’t happen, then the trustees will continue to make decisions that seem out of touch with the student body.
 
-AEG

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