December 3, 2020

Editorial: Up, up and abroad

Last week, directors from Webster University’s international campuses came to the Webster Groves campus in St. Louis for their annual conference. The festivities began Sunday evening with a welcome banquet and after several meetings and sessions, the directors returned to their own schools on Wednesday.
Obviously a yearly meeting of the minds is essential for a global institution like Webster. But The Journal finds a few questionable things to mention to our readers.
President Stroble and her administrative team have stressed their dedication to communication and transparency since they rose to power. But we find it interesting that no event was held to truly encourage interaction between the higher-ups and students. A Business Expo on Monday showcased several St. Louis campus groups and a few students were allowed to man the booths, but no open discussion session was held.
The choice to study abroad, and where to study abroad, is one of the most important in a Webster student’s life — shouldn’t we have a chance to meet these visiting directors and voice our opinions about the study abroad experience? The Journal had some difficulty in accessing the directors and attending the events (particularly the opening ceremonies, which seemed far more interesting and important after we were denied access), so we have to call this “transparency policy” into question. Even our Delegates Agenda, which  The Journal wrote briefly on last week, listed “dissemination of information” as a primary concern.
Perhaps more interesting than the exclusion of a student voice at these meetings was the visit from several Japanese businessmen affiliated with J. F. Oberlin University in Tokyo. These men hope to enter into some sort of partnered relationship with Webster in the near future.
Of course, The Journal supports further academic opportunities for students, including study abroad opportunities in several countries. But we also remember concerns brought to the administration last year concerning existing study abroad campuses — Thailand in particular.
Perhaps Webster should focus on solving the problems of technology, course schedules and ensuring each campus is on board with the mission statement before seeking to broaden their hold on the global market. Maybe addressing rumors about closing the Thailand campus and concerns about the financial burden of international campuses in this time of economic struggle would be a good place to start, instead of jumping in to a new endeavor.
Or perhaps a simple focusing of resources on improving existing campuses, rather than constructing new ones, would serve the students best.
These rumors and problems are just that for the moment, and overall The Journal has been impressed with Stroble’s willingness to talk openly about Webster issues with students, during open office hours or with student media.
We only hope to see this continue, so that if Webster chooses to open a new campus abroad or make major changes in policies or procedures, the student voice is always heard.

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