Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 26, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Commentary: SGA president motivates action beyond vote

Approximately 72 percent of students who voted at Ithaca College have no confidence in Tom Rochon’s leadership as our president. Conversations on identity, race, academic leadership, strategic visioning and social movements have dramatically occupied the entire educational experience that is the college in the Fall of 2015. So many of our inspiring student peers, including POC at IC, will be able to not only leave here with a degree in their field of study, but also in dramatically altering the status quo.

Fifty-four percent of eligible students voted, and 72 percent of those respondents said no confidence, which is perhaps the most representative sample of the student voice that this college has ever seen. The data is reliable, and it is damning. As student body president, I have the responsibility to not only represent students, but to serve them as well, which is why the removal of Rochon as president is my top priority.

On Nov. 30, the Student Government Association showed our campus community what we have the capacity to do. We released the results and by a unanimous senate vote, passed the Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and our vision for Shared Governance. I hope that you will consider joining the SGA as we’re looking for engaged students to bring diverse voices to the table in order to continue to make more equitable policies and systems at the college.

So what can we do moving forward? The SGA has its policies, bills, plans, etc., but there must be more than that from each and every one of us. We need to keep protesting institutional and systemic racism and autocracy and keep occupying spaces across campus with critical dialogues, from the Peggy Ryan Williams Center to the Athletics and Events Center and every space in between. We need to keep demanding actions be taken. We need to get louder and not be silenced by rhetoric. We need to show up at the table when we’re asked and express loud and clear what our student voices truly are saying. When you speak up in support of the no confidence vote, know that you have at least 2,695 students standing behind you.

Student government exists to represent and serve the student body, and it is my hope that we can take this moment in time to take our commitment very seriously. We won’t just continue to exist as a government of the people, but progress toward governance by the people, always striving to be more equitable, more inclusive and more welcoming. This starts with policies like the Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and actions toward shared governance moving forward.

In the first assessment of what students value in a college president, positive and meaningful relationships, clear communication with feedback loops built in, empathetic sincerity, recognition of privileges and open-mindedness were themes that were brought up and discussed in depth. We will have more opportunities to share our values, but this is a good start that gives us the beginnings of a vision of what a president can and should be. It’s my opinion that Rochon’s leadership is not reflective of these values.

It has been proven that Rochon has failed us, the students. It is now time for him to leave the college. This is yet another public call for Rochon to step down, and yet another call for the
Ithaca College Board of Trustees to hold a vote to remove Rochon from office and bring in someone who more accurately reflects the values of our college community and can lead us forward to a prosperous future that is not just assessed on the financial bottom line, but on the commitment to institutional excellence that we claim to have in our very own college seal.

Dominick Recckio is the student body president. Email him at [email protected]