It would be inconceivable to put into place an effective structure of shared governance overnight, but at the Task Force’s current rate and method, it will be difficult to get any further than where we were last semester.
The Shared Governance Task Force has proposed a set of principles that fall in line with the vision of shared governance we should have, but these ideas — representation, empowerment, responsibility and transparency at all levels of leadership — are ones that have been preached for months.
We have known since the fall semester what a system of shared governance would ideally accomplish — making the college decision-making process more equitable among key groups on campus. We have known that this is a necessary move to change the structural issues our college faces, with students, faculty and staff feeling left out of key initiatives and decisions. We do not need a task force to reiterate these same points we already know — we had hoped for a clearer and more specific direction this late in the game.
In addition to developing these proposed principles of shared governance, the Task Force has, in its four meetings thus far, reviewed four reports, administered one survey and invited two members of the administrative assembly to join. The group continually asks for feedback on these broad principles, asking open-ended questions such as what constituents would like to see in a system of shared governance. Having no clear vision to propose to the community provides little motivation for people to get involved and contribute to this vision — a vicious cycle of counterproductiveness.
The average student, for example, might not have an idea of where to begin with providing answers to such open-ended questions. It would be more helpful to offer specific types of models, such as the three that the Faculty Council drafted together in a 2015 report, for constituents to respond to with informed opinions. A model will not emerge from the responses of the community to a theoretical framework. There need to be some basic structural ideas put forth and clear options laid out for people to visualize potential structures that would work for Ithaca College.
If the Task Force cannot provide these ideas and develop more specific visions, then the purpose of the Task Force comes into question.