Editorial: Nov. 2
If you’ve had your ears open in the department lounges and professor offices of Calvin this week, you’ve probably heard some rumblings about the budget crisis. Local and denominational news sources have picked up the story of late, and this week’s front page of Chimes will give you the whole story. If you haven’t read it, I’d ask that you flip to the front and get informed before continuing to read this editorial.
The news story my managing editor and I composed for this week is, we hope, an informative and fair description of the situation. Most adults on campus have been notified of the problem, but most students have not. Part of our mission here at Chimes is to inform students, so we hope you now feel included in the conversation.
A second mission of Chimes is to present balanced perspectives — we’re always looking for both sides of the story. In service to that mission, I must admit that the story on the front page is not quite the whole story. Not every voice is represented.
My experience covering this story has been one of the best learning moments of my career at Chimes. I’ve learned a lot about journalism, about ethics and about how excellent Calvin really is. On the scale of Chimes editors, I’m probably on the less adventurous side when it comes to writing exposés. While I know it’s necessary to call out the college when it stumbles, I don’t feel the need to stir up unnecessary trouble, rant or rave. I genuinely love this place, and want to use my editorial power charitably.
So it’s out of that love that I seek to carry out Chimes’ mission regarding complete and balanced stories. The unheard voice in our budget story is that of the faculty and staff of Calvin. President Le Roy’s perspective on the crisis is (I think appropriately) optimistic, and he’s put forward a great attitude regarding the situation. His interview for the Chimes story was relaxed, candid and helpful. However, based on personal conversations with professors and a few anecdotes I’ve heard from the faculty assembly this past Monday, I’ve come to hear another outlook on the state of affairs.
There has always been a sense at Calvin that finances are well managed. Departments and programs are tightly run ships, but they rarely feel like they’re sinking. This sudden announcement of a budget gap has left many feeling shocked and confused. The word “betrayal” is also being tossed around.
Faculty and staff work hard to recruit students, get them interested in multiple disciplines and create community among departments. The severity of this crisis has the potential to put that all in jeopardy.
In such a small and tight-knit community as Calvin, everyone knows everyone. While this can create a sense of connectedness and ensure good communication, it also means that when things go wrong, we look for someone to blame. The previous administration is getting a lot of flak from a group of professors who were becoming increasingly disillusioned anyway. Who was supposed to be watching out for situations like this? they wonder. Was something purposefully covered up, or were there simply incompetent individuals? Has the money all been accounted for, or is there still room for suspicion?
The ethicality of investing money donated to a nonprofit institution has also been questioned. While it’s certainly not illegal, many wonder whether it’s right to invest the assets of an establishment that has a mission it seeks to carry out and a large group of people depending on it.
As you can see, questions abound. Some members of our community are sorrowful, and still others are distrustful. But amidst all the confusion and hurt feelings, a bright spot has shone through. President Le Roy has handled the situation brilliantly. Recognizing that he has not been able to gain the trust of the college community in such a short time as president, his approach to the circumstance has been open and encouraging. He answers questions without dodging, doesn’t dismiss opinions and promotes clear communication. I know I as a student have been impressed, and I think faculty, staff and other community members have been as well.
So that’s the whole story — or as whole as I can tell you. It’s a view of the situation from a concerned student with a public platform. Form your own opinions about the issue, but form them having heard both sides.