The SIUE Board of Trustees, faculty and staff senates and Student Government control mostly everything that happens at the university. With this much power, it’s important that they improve communication with students.
These boards are in place for a reason, and because SIUE is a public university, they have a great impact. They decide everything from tuition increases to new clubs on campus. These decisions affect the entirety of the SIUE community.
The problem with their impact is the lack of understanding of what they do, the decisions they make or those involved in them. There are meetings upon meetings, but no clear way to access meeting minutes, agendas or members.
At The Alestle, we feel like this is an issue that should be discussed — there should be more transparency in governing bodies.
Finding agendas is difficult. Websites exist, and BOT’s site is updated constantly. Student Government’s is rarely updated. Finding agendas for meetings for BOT, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and Student Government are equally difficult. Agendas can be found on the individual websites mentioned prior, but Student Government meeting agendas and minutes aren’t even updated for this school year. In fact, the last published set of minutes is from April of last year. There is no easy way for students to even see what Student Government is up to. Both Faculty Senate and Staff Senate lack information entirely.
There is no official Twitter account for the BOT. Student Government has a Twitter account — but they don’t post any of the actual news or happenings from the meetings. Generally, it tends to be tweets such as “TONIGHT at 6 p.m. in the Goshen Lounge; come check out some of the changes coming to campus this spring!”
While these tweets aren’t bad, it would be beneficial for student government officers to actually tweet what things are voted on and what things happen. Students don’t get a chance to attend all of these meetings because they don’t know about them, so posting news would spread news through campus.
Finding the rosters for BOT and Student Government isn’t simple. They’re placed on respective websites, but having to find the websites is hard. To find Student Government’s roster, people have to navigate through SIUE’s Kimmel Center website to find the members.
BOT doesn’t have a Twitter account and there are no official accounts for the members of the board. Carbondale’s Student Trustee Brione Lockett has a Twitter account but has never tweeted at all — SIUE’s Student Trustee Molly Smith doesn’t have an official twitter. Board Secretary Joel Sambursky has a Twitter account but rarely tweets. There is no official way to find any information from the BOT online outside of local news sources and their website. A lot of students rely on social media for news now, which can make it inaccessible.
For BOT, the lack of social media isn’t the problem; it’s the lack of work from a communications officer or member. The BOT aren’t even listed on SIUE’s official website. Instead, the list is only found on the SIU system website. There are brief biographies of the board members here, and that’s about it. Finding out what the individual trustees do isn’t even listed — a title exists, but an actual description is nonexistent. SIU System Interim President, Kevin J. Dorsey, isn’t listed on the site. Finding out who the president of the system is shouldn’t be this difficult for students. Dorsey has been president for months, and there was a large amount of controversy regarding previous president Randy Dunn. It was kept quiet outside of meetings.
These groups control things that happen at SIUE. They’re necessary for everything that happens at the university. Because of this, it needs to be easier for students to access details about the meetings, how to get involved and how it impacts them too. Students will fall out of the loop if they have no idea when these organizations have meetings — it is harder for students to know what happens when it isn’t online. Or, students may have never been in the loop.
We are at the meetings and we are able to cover and publish the information. As a news organization, it’s our job.
If we can’t get access to this information, students will continue to have trouble with it. These governing bodies should want to make it easily accessible for students and faculty to understand and attend meetings. The more well-informed the community is, the better.