The troubling leadership issue at Ithaca College is something I didn’t realize even existed until the beginning of Spring 2021 when I found out one of my favorite professors, Fae Dremock, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Science, wasn’t returning after Spring 2022. I struggled to understand how the administration could let such a wonderful addition to the college go, but I understand now. Previously, I had assumed that the college maybe had even the slightest idea what it was doing, but with every new day and every new flaw I discover, I have begun to worry that they do not.
Dining halls are understaffed. No one has the time or patience to wait in the absurd lines during the noon hour. Nevertheless, students wait anyway because the other options somehow have even longer wait times. Positive cases are kept classified which means students that were potentially exposed won’t be informed. As one of my professors phrased it, we should be going about our lives on campus as if everyone has COVID all the time, because they might, and we wouldn’t even know.
The bandage the school has put on it is the daily health screenings. To enter the dining halls, I must answer four questions that can easily be answered by whoever checks the badges just by looking at me. For example, the first question is “Are you planning on being on campus today?” One might argue that the staff member (on campus) looking at me (on campus) might be able to assume that I am in fact on campus. Although I could probably perform a stand-up routine about the ridiculousness that are the daily health screenings, it isn’t their ridiculousness that makes me so upset — it’s their ingenuity. If the only thing this school is implementing to keep us safe from a pandemic are four questions that can be falsified easily, how are we supposed to feel safe? A better solution to keeping students safe would be mandatory regular testing. This strategy, which was used in Spring 2021, was much more reliable and effective than the daily health screenings.
Roughly 85% of faculty and staff are vaccinated. Faculty and staff are not required to be vaccinated even though students are. This decision was hypocritical and selfish, especially after firing a devastating number of beloved professors out of “necessity.” Students are supposed to be the college’s number one priority. So why does it feel as though our college’s leadership isn’t doing everything in their power to keep us safe from COVID-19 and better our education by holding onto brilliant professors?
I love the Ithaca community and that is what keeps me here. However, I’ve had friends who have transferred because the product was nowhere near worthy of such an extravagant price tag and have lost wonderful professors to the downsizing rampage. I don’t know where my family’s money is going, but I know I don’t want it to land in the pockets of Ithaca’s leadership staff when they haven’t done nearly as much for me as my professor who they decided to let go did.
I would like to very clearly state that I do not wish to leave this school. I simply would like to stop paying around $64,091 to watch my school fall apart before my eyes. I don’t think that should be too much to ask. I want to feel confident in my decision to attend this college. Instead, I am one of many concerned students who are already worrying about competitive job markets, student debt and wasted time. I chose to attend a college that felt like a community for a reason. Decisions regarding the school’s finances, staff cuts, COVID-19 precautions and the search for a new president should be an open conversation within the community. At the very least, decisions shouldn’t be kept a secret. I encourage anyone who reads this to raise their voice and ask the college’s leadership, “Where is the money going?” as much as we need to until we get a real and fair answer. We deserve to know what we are purchasing, where our money is going or who our money is going to. We deserve to attend a college that is transparent about its finances and decisions regarding the well–being of students. If the college’s leadership won’t be honest with us, we have to speak up and demand transparency. I encourage anyone who reads this to raise their voice and ask, “Where is the money going?”