Things are heating up in the world of Eurekans, but as of right now mostly only students, staff, and alum are aware of any of it. Eureka College is a small private college with its largest boast probably being the great faculty-student ratio that provides a more personal environment with many leadership opportunities.
There are currently 11 empty faculty positions, 8 of which from this school year and 3 from the year before not being filled. Remember this is a small school, so that’s actually about 25% of faculty. The student paper recently released an article that expressed student’s concerns – with administrative decisions, with the upcoming accreditation review, and with their hopes of graduating without transferring or taking an additional semester due to the potential of certain courses not being offered next fall. This relatively small matter for the college only escalated when a faculty member – acting alone and not from the school’s request – removed any remaining papers from the stand so that the article would not be read. Suddenly social media was abuzz with the debacle – it wasn’t Facebook Trending, but it was My Newsfeed Trending. This wasn’t just an issue of taking the right classes or graduating on time or having an accredited degree; it was an issue of censorship and freedom of the press, and the students made that very clear.
The newspaper article was posted by someone who had grabbed a copy before they were removed, for the dual purpose of letting students read the article, as well as to inform alumni as to the situation. (I for one am very grateful, since I didn’t realize so many faculty were leaving or that there was any concern.) It was then clarified that a faculty member acted alone to remove the paper from circulation and that efforts were now being made to redistribute the newspaper the following week. What could have blown over escalated yet again when a board member posted unprofessional comments I am certain the college could not have approved. This wasn’t just an issue of censorship now; it was an issue of professionalism, basic social media etiquette, and attacking students/faculty. What a PR fiasco.
Sure, there are obvious concerns, for me as an alum, as well as for current and prospective students. Concerns that I believe will be addressed, if for no other reason than because of this situation escalating to such proportions. I want to bring to light the side of this that will probably not be recognized – that this event is the exact reason to consider going to Eureka College.
- Students That Care – Maybe it’s the whole Liberal Arts Education thing that makes us outspoken. We don’t stand by and let stuff happen to us, we want to be involved, have an opinion and make it heard. We might be drama queens about it, but in the end I bet you won’t find as many (percentage-wise) students or alum making such a racket over faculty leaving or school politics/administration in general. We want to make a difference, so we won’t be shut up easily.
- Great Faculty – If Eureka College had subpar faculty moving on to their next 9-to-5, do you think any students would be in an uproar over a board member calling them troublemakers and liars? I don’t think so. We care, but we care about stuff that matters. And you can bet with this upheaval, that great faculty will be exactly what Eureka College is looking for. Is there a chance you’ll have crap teachers? Of course, there always is, but know at Eureka College, I think the odds are in your favor.
- Real-World Experience – I said it before, that Eureka is big on leadership opportunities. That comes with mistakes and successes, with the world being your stage. Here’s a lesson – power of the press. Even more-so now than before, with the digital footprint you leave. You can pull newspapers off a rack, but you can’t delete photos and screenshot comments (what many students did with the board member’s unprofessional comments in case he chose to delete them later.) It’s there for all to see…..forever. We hear it all the time, but now we know it from one crazy personal experience. I bet some people on *both* sides of the issue posted something they will at some point regret….I hope I’m not that person. But it’s a learning experience, to address the big issues and take a stand without regretting words later. Obviously Eureka College did not intend for the lesson to be learned in such a way, but the small-school atmosphere magnifies situations like this. And it’s an excellent learning experience better than any facebook photo of a teacher holding a sign saying “My students don’t believe this will travel very far….share to prove them wrong.”
Calling this a revolution may be a tad exaggerated, but it’s evident that students are rallying for change and information and a voice in their education. I can’t wait to hear from administration on this and have more of a full picture of the situation and what concerns are actually present and what’s hearsay. This appears to have at least the potential for serious repercussions and I hope Eureka College the best, because I really think it is the best school in so many ways. In all the mud-slinging and worry and fear, let’s remember there’s some real positive aspects to what has been dubbed the Eureka Riot of 2015 (remember, we’re a lil dramatic about this stuff.)