Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Miles to go....

Since SMWC's shocking announcement last week, I've refrained from posting all weekend.  I needed to let my heart heal a bit and my head to begin processing the facts without those pesky emotions getting in the way.  Plus, I needed a break!  So many students, both current and past, are very upset about this decision, and have been posting on social media all weekend.  I couldn't get my own emotions in check while having my heart ripped out by the posts of others.  I could have easily taken to social media and voiced my frustration and anger, but I chose not to.  I'm not brave enough, I suppose, to put all those feelings out there.  Kudos to those who were.

As we reach a week out, I know there are a few points that I've been focusing my frustration on, and have questions about.  I'm incredibly upset for the current students- many that I know- who are getting thrown into blindly.  While it's easy to say that there have been guys in campus classes for years (male employees can enroll in campus classes, and some programs allow men), it's one thing to make them a permanent fixture on campus.  The current students have been completely blindsided and I'm not happy with this.  This decision affects them directly, and they should have been informed separately, and not via a press release.

I think that's my main point of anger in all of this (I realize as I type!!!)- finding out by press release or email.  At least Sweet Briar called all the students together to let them know they were closing, as messed up as that entire situation has become, they did tell the students in a much better way.  I'm disappointed in the administration for not trusting in our student body and alums, and respecting them enough to have the announcement delivered in person.  To me, it feels like the administration just didn't care enough about the current students to inform them appropriately.  Because let's face it, finding out via press release is incredibly inappropriate and insulting for all constituents involved.  There was a better way to handle this, SMWC, and you failed. You failed spectacularly.

Two Facebook groups have been created, one could say a group for each side of the issue, that have been pretty vocal all week.  The first one regards delaying co-education until Fall of 2018, or until current students have graduated and receive the all women's education they signed up for.  I'm on the fence about this, but I did sign their petition to support them.  I'm not sure delaying this decision until 2018 will be good for the college, but I understand why they want it so.  The other group is in support of SMWC, and is mostly employees and administration with some alums.  It's looking like these groups represent two sides to this issue, which troubles me.  We all support SMWC, but we just have different visions for what we see as success.

My take?

I don't like the idea of SMWC going co-ed, plain and simple.  I think they could have avoided this situation by taking active steps years ago.

I wanted to drive through campus this morning, but I couldn't do it.  It hurts too much, still.

As a former employee, I always wondered why administration was so dismissive of enrollment, and chose to stomp all over them instead of taking an active role in the promotion of the college.  It seemed as though we were the red-headed stepchildren of the college, always to be sneered at or dismissed as being incompetent.   I always wanted to say just work with us and help us instead of belittling us!  I don't make this stuff up, people!  It was so difficult to listen to a committee make all sorts of recommendations about my job, when in fact I already did everything they suggested.  If they had just asked ME, I could have told them. There is little support for my friends still in enrollment, and I worry about their spirit in the coming days.

There is no marketing department- the promotion of the college is handled by public relations, a small department in which no one has a marketing background and they are so very overworked that they have little to no time to complete the work of promoting the college.  These ladies are amazing, but they are not the marketing department that is so desperately needed.  Much of the marketing came from enrollment, who REALLY isn't a marketing department and has absolutely no background in this field at all!  I handled social media advertising...and while I know quite a bit about Facebook, I had to figure out the advertising on my own.  I did it because I wanted to see the program grow.  We would sit and brainstorm for hours on how to attract more students (both campus and online) and how to make the college look attractive and affordable.  The online program, which propped up the campus program for many years, is in decline.  Much of it is due to cost, program availability, advising, and the general structure of the program.  I can say this firsthand now, as I am a student again.  My semester ended May 18....and I have no grades yet.  My assignment are not even all graded.  But that's another story....

Regardless of the above, my love for SMWC remains, and I do respect the administration, even if I don't agree with their actions.  We have a long road ahead, and everyone must determine what kind of voice they want to have in the upcoming conversations.  I'm still figuring this out myself....

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