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Students, Staff, and Faculty of Warren Wilson College Discuss New Governance Structure at Ice Cream Social

by Nathan Gower, staff writer

A large number of students, staff, and faculty flocked to Canon Lounge on Wednesday, Oct. 5, for a community meeting to discuss the newly reformed and currently implemented governance structure.

Student Caucus organized and advertised the community meeting as a Governance Ice Cream Social.

“The idea behind the social is for students, faculty, and staff to become more familiar with Governance figures and how the new WWC governance structure works,” a campus-wide e-mail, sent on Sept. 30 by Student Caucus, read.

Students were encouraged to stop by and discuss the new governance system with various administrative representatives, who were divided into groups throughout the room.

John Casey serves on the Governance Transition Team, a continuation of the Governance Task Force that is overseeing the transition to the new governance system. He had witnessed a failed overhaul to the governance structure several years ago and was pleased to see changes to the system. He was quick to note there are still natural and expected growing pains to undergo.

“There’s a lot still to be done. There are still adjustments to be made. Most of the policies are short on details. Those have to get worked out,” said Casey.

Any changes to the structure would be proposed when the Governance Transition Team meets with the Board of Trustees in February of 2012.

Marion Yeager, also of the Governance Transition Team, was pleased to see these community meetings happening in contrast to the frequently held and often highly anxious emergency meetings.

“These community meeting are about the values of college. We forget we like it here when we get bogged down by the negativity. It’s good to see something proactive rather than reactive,” said Yeager.

Deb Myers, who had been a target of controversial student behavior last year that caused some of these emergency meetings to be held, was also pleased to see the implementation of more positive meetings.

“It’s nice to get ahead of issues, not to be reactive,” said Myers.

Myers had also been keen on the informal setting of the social, claiming it was helpful for a student who may not be comfortable enough to ask questions in a more organized system like Student Caucus.

“We get to know each other as people,” Myers said.

The positive reputation of the first two community meetings, the first of which focused on service, has been something President Sandy Pfeiffer was pleased to see. He hopes the community meetings will not stop when he retires at the end of this academic year.

“Caucus could develop it as a tradition. We are answering their requests for dialogue loud and clear. My hope is that we could get together fairly regularly, even if there’s nothing to talk about, even if it’s just a party” said Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer felt these meetings would fill a gap created when Forum, formerly known as Staff Forum, reduced its meetings from twice a month to once a month. He worried that without frequent discussions, the community would suffer. He noted that a lack of dialogue is what has led to problems in the past.

“When there isn’t dialogue, when there isn’t transparency, people fill in the gaps,” Pfeiffer said.

He added that these community meetings were a way of making communication and dialogue easy.

“I have open hours every week, and people often don’t take advantage of them. We’re all so busy here that we have to make communication easy for everyone,” Pfeiffer said.

The Governance Transition Team’s student representative, Freesia McKee, was pleased to see student requests for more transparency granted.

“I think last year there was a call for more community meetings. I’m glad this is happening,” McKee said.

Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC), Forum, Governance Transition Team, Student Life, Work Program, Service Program, Advancement, Academic Affairs, Admissions, and Finance were amongst the committees represented.

Governance Meeting Ice Cream Social Oct. 5. Photo by Wyatt Pace.

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