Opinion: An outsider’s perspective in defense of the administration

C5F00D0A-77F3-4E76-9168-DA6BCC13CEAA Courtesy of Kevin Peterson

Natalie -01274 Courtesy of Natalie Criscenzo.

In recent weeks, The Review has published multiple editorials and opinion pieces that have taken unfair and uninformed attacks at the university’s trustees and administrators. Having spent numerous hours with these “untrustable” leaders that the school’s paper has tirelessly attempted to smear, we, as the student body presidents for the classes of 2018 and 2019, would like to set the record straight.

Certain Review staff members don’t seem to remember the university prior to Nancy Targett serving as interim president and refuse to recognize the many improvements to student involvement in major decisions that have occurred since President Dennis Assanis first came to campus. A common complaint found in the opinion section is that university administrators just don’t care what students think, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Last year, Natalie Criscenzo became one of the only undergraduate students to ever serve on a high-level search committee for a new provost. Once finalists were chosen, a group of undergraduate and graduate students were convened to evaluate each candidate and give their recommendations to the president. This year, with an ongoing search for a new vice president of student life, Kevin Peterson was asked to serve on the search advisory committee. This time, an open offer was extended to students to meet the VP finalists. While this latest execution of involving students was not ideal, they certainly are making far more of an effort than the past, and the administration is consistently listening to input on how they can do a better job in the future. Not only is the administration constantly berated, but lately the Board of Trustees has also come under fire.

The trustees, ridiculed in a recent editorial for lacking any interest in student concerns, have on many occasions sought our input to make certain that student interests come first. Furthermore, The Review’s editorial fails to mention the seat on the Board of Trustees reserved for a recent graduate, who is selected every two years, ensuring that students are heard. As for why only members of the Student Government Association (SGA) are chosen to represent student views at trustee meetings, we are there because that’s the purpose of an elected student government. Just recently, Peterson made a point of gaining insights from students at September’s meeting of the Counsel of Student Leaders — a meeting that The Review decided not to attend — to bring up at the trustees’ retreat. Similarly, SGA members often take suggestions from UDecide, an open online forum for all university students, directly to the trustees. Instead of complaining about the trustees, why not encourage students to talk to their student government — the only students who already have a seat at the table? For the first time, through immense effort in building relationships with the trustees, SGA spoke at the retreat and has been allocated time on committee meeting agendas.

Last week’s mockery by the editor in chief of the university’s latest ad campaign compelled us to rebut the never-ending cynicism. The subject of the piece, as with many before it, was the university’s “propaganda,” aimed at converting the university into a Big 10 university, a sentiment that we have publicly spoken to.

Students have complained that the Delaware First mission disregards some of the qualities of campus that students love most. The substance of an accurate assessment, though, is lost in the overblown critiques. At the same time, student athletes, who have felt neglected in the past, finally feel heard, which often goes unacknowledged by The Review.

A role of any student newspaper is to hold campus leaders accountable, but that should also include the newspaper itself; without a high standard of integrity, there can be no credibility.

Kevin Peterson is a senior at the university and the current Student Body President. Natalie Criscenzo is a graduate student at the university and former Student Body President (2017-2018). They can be reached at kpnj@udel.edu and nataliec@udel.edu, respectively.

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