December 2, 2020

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I was disturbed by The Journal’s reason for favoring upcoming cuts to the U.S. military. You state that through major defense spending cuts, Congress should be “forced to face their failure” and you “want the electorate to wake up and smell the failure” and vote. I agree, incompetent leaders should be ousted in elections, but your stance on this issue is dangerous.

Your editorial states, “when [leaders] cease working together … there should be consequences.” You say military cuts would be the consequence. If an ill-equipped America is attacked again, politicians will not be the only ones paying the consequences. Those consequences could be deadly and affect American citizens, including Webster students and faculty.

Your editorial shows frustration for the current political gridlock preventing any real solutions to America’s problems. Your attitude, however, reflects that same obstinacy of current politicians. Instead of educating Americans to vote for leaders who will uphold and defend the Constitution, keep our country safe and put citizens back to work, you favor putting our nation at risk to prove a point to a stubborn Congress.

But in a society in which it is more popular to lay blame than to solve problems, I’m not surprised.

 

Sincerely,

Sarah Hinds, Student

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Dear Editor,

In the corporate world, a hostile take-over is defined as “the acquisition of one company (called the ‘target’) by another (called the ‘acquirer’) that is accomplished not by coming to an agreement with the target company’s management, but by going directly to the company’s shareholders or fighting to replace management in order to get the acquisition approved.” By any measure, what we are currently witnessing in Webster University’s Information Technology (IT) division’s ongoing attempt to take control of The Media Center is nothing if not a textbook example of this justifiably feared and hated term.

I have been a member of the School of Communications Adjunct Faculty since 1989. The recent Journal article by Andrea Sisney (“New Media Center policies cause concern”), revealed more in two pages than two years of blocked and stalled inquiries have failed to do. My experiences with the staff and student workers of the Media Center have been uniformly positive from the start, and it saddens me to see — and, as the interviewees in the piece quite rightly stated, feel — the heavy atmosphere and oppressive bullying tactics that have come to pervade the day-to-day workings of the department.

And if the rest of The Media Center’s academic clients have up to this point failed to notice any such changes, I submit that this has everything to do with the dedication and professionalism of The Media Center staff, and nothing at all to do with any purported structural changes that have been imposed by IT in order to streamline the workings of the department. If, as stated in the article, the decision to take The Media Center out of the purview of Academic Affairs and place it under IT was made back in 2002, then I for one cannot recall any such formal announcement being made regarding this momentous course of action. I would welcome a renewed clarification and/or written proof of the original plan.

From last year’s abrupt dismissal of Media Center Director Greg Little, to this summer’s contentious departure of Audio Department head Gary Gottleib, the School of Communications has seemingly become a place where backroom dealings and “closed-door” policies have become the norm.

Our students deserve so much better than this. Interim President of IT William Kenneth Freeman’s statement that he would not be available to address these issues until after Dec. 12 is yet another example of this cynical and patronizing attitude—this date conveniently coincides with Finals Week, that time of the semester when students, staff, and faculty are the least available to voice their concerns in any sort of organized public forum. It’s also worth remembering that the dramatic restructuring of the then-brand new Department of Audio Aesthetics and Technology took place in those few weeks immediately after the end of the Summer ’11 semester and the beginning of the Fall ’11 semester — a time when most students and faculty were unavailable for either notification or input.

Ultimately, though, it will be the responsibility of the students themselves to decide the outcome of this urgent situation. You have much more power and influence than you know, if only you are willing to use it consistently and with a sense of purpose. Faculty and staff members have their role to play, of course, but what Mr. Freeman and other administrators seemingly fail to recognize is that, in the end, it is the students (and their parents) who drive the agenda of the university. Without you, none of us would be here.  None of us.

Former IT Vice President Lawrence Haffner remarked last year in these pages that “everyone likes to think that they are indispensable, and life goes on,” coldly referring to the unceremonious removal of Greg Little. Now Mr. Haffner finds himself similarly demoted by the same powers-that-be.

School of Communications students need to realize that their future is directly dependent upon the outcome of this current power struggle: if our institution’s outstanding reputation in the professional world is compromised by rumors of infighting and lack of direction, then surely prospective employers will be less likely to look favorably upon the work of recent graduates coming from such a perceived dysfunctional atmosphere. Good news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster.

 

Thank you very much.

 

Sincerely,

Orestes Valdes, adjunct faculty

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