EDITORIAL: The future holds opportunities. Don't let them pass

By The Beacon | April 28, 2021 7:01pm
With the semester coming to a close, a new school year offers many opportunities to continue to improve the UP community as long as we work together. Photo Illustration by Brennan Crowder.

It’s been a long, long school year, and the end is finally close in sight. As you pour over your finals or papers, clear out your dorm rooms or houses, or even stare at the commencement box in the corner of your room, you might feel a little motion sickness — things are changing fast. With every adult in the U.S. now eligible for a vaccine, hope is on the horizon. In a looming post-pandemic world, with new leadership arriving to UP, it's time to think about what kind of future UP could, and should, strive for.

In the fall, there's no certainty as to what the COVID-19 situation will look like. While the University has announced that proof of vaccinations will be mandatory upon return to in-person classes, masks and social distancing policies could still be needed for extra safety. Or perhaps by August, we'll be free from the shackles of this virus and living in the "post-pandemic word" Americans have been hoping for. Regardless, we must still cooperate as a community and communicate in order to ensure we can confidently return to a world where we can share hugs and sit at the same table.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this year, it’s that clear communication from the administration is not a privilege we earn but something we are owed as members of the UP community. We all need to be on the same page in order to act swiftly. It’s vital to safety and maintaining a healthy community. While we understand the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic, in the coming years, we continue to urge the administration to be transparent and improve communication with the student body. In the last year alone, there have been several instances in which communication to UP students, faculty and family has been neglected by the University, resulting in inaccessibility to administration and confusion.

No matter the circumstances of COVID-19, there are things our University and community should be considering as we pave a path to a new era, and communication is imperative to those efforts.

The recently released investigation into Sandy Chung’s allegations of bias at the upper levels of UP has resulted in a list of several action items for the University to follow through on in the future. However, the results of the investigation still leave many questions unanswered as many accusations were never specifically addressed. With a new year ahead, the University has an opportunity to show serious effort regarding its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Decisive and meaningful action in hiring and DEI training for University leadership are excellent places to start.

Speaking of hiring, we are currently awaiting news of who will take up the helm for the University from Fr. Mark Poorman. The last update was from March 12 with the unexpected announcement that Fr. Jim Lies had decided not to accept the position. The Board of Regents is still conducting its search for an interim president. Our next president does not have to fit the same mold of what all of our past presidents have been; the bylaws don’t specifically state that the president has to be a male or a member of Holy Cross. The next president could be a person of color, or LGBTQ or a woman. Regardless, we only hope that the next president of UP doesn’t undervalue the importance of listening to campus — not just to regents and donors but to our students and faculty from all walks of life. 

Looking to the new school year, which will undoubtedly have its own challenges, we simply ask administration that as plans are being developed, they be upfront about the process, who’s involved, and what is set in stone. The answers to the questions may not be readily available, but better to say that than to leave people wondering and spread potentially harmful misinformation.

Despite all of the struggles and hardships of the last year, the hard work to better our community that persisted within a largely virtual world should not go unseen.

We wanted to applaud the development of the Ethnic Studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Many dedicated faculty and students were involved and invested much of their time to its creation. This program’s inclusion into CAS is an important step towards making  intersectionality and racial justice a priority at UP. Don’t lose the momentum and energy that has brought us to this point. With the right attention, this can become [an incredible resource and opportunity for UP].

In the same vein, we urge the continued support of Diversity and Inclusion Programming and QTBIPOC communities. The tragedies of the past year have been important opportunities to demonstrate allyship and have difficult conversations, but those efforts need to continue as we move forward. From organizing spaces for QTBIPOC students to their food pantry events, DIP has provided much needed resources and outlets for marginalized students and their efforts cannot go unrecognized. Continue to stand with the minority members of the UP community and center their voices as we pursue justice and greater systemic change.

To the students of UP — keep asking questions, keep having conversations. You are paying money to attend this institution. Your experience here is what you make of it. Do you have questions you want answers to? Let us know. Do you have an opinion or story to share? We want to hear from you.

We commend everyone for getting through the year. We recognize that the pandemic and its isolation has not been easy and has demanded more than we thought we had to give. Take your much deserved break to rest and recover so when you return, you are ready to make sure that the UP community is the best it can be for everyone.

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