Committee meetings should be open

Higher education is now in a time of transition. Eastern is not an exception.

Earlier in the week, we reported on the staffing and subsequent first meeting of a review committee that will look at Workgroup no. 8 and 9’s recommendations.

Both workgroups made recommendations that could change the way Eastern moves forward after a vulnerable time.

Workgroup no. 8 looked at developing new programs that could increase Eastern’s enrollment, and Workgroup no. 9 analyzed the organization of the university’s academic colleges, schools and departments. It also looked at different learning platforms and tuition models that could be used. The recommendations made by Workgroups no. 8 and 9 are “far-reaching” and could lead to “fundamental changes in how we organize our school,” according to committee member Billy Hung.

These changes are substantial.

This is why The Daily Eastern News is calling on the new committee’s members to make these meetings open to the public.

The Daily Eastern News has recounted and reiterated just how dangerous misinformation is, especially in such a period of transition for the university. We just barely bounced back from what might be the most difficult period in Eastern’s history, and people need to know what is happening next.

Closing the meetings will only lead to speculation about what this could mean. If the public is not allowed to see the suggestions and progress being made by this new review committee, they will be kept in the dark about what possible changes could be made in the places they work in and that most of them love. Having the committee discuss these changes among themselves back and forth for a few weeks without any feedback from the community, as closed meetings, will only breed secrecy from the committee and suspicion from the rest of the campus community.

The provost said in Thursday’s article of The Daily Eastern News that this committee was meant to be ad-hoc, but however “temporary” he thinks the group itself will be, the changes it will potentially make could be permanent.

While some might think that having the meetings be open will make people more hesitant to speak freely on their ideas, if these ideas are ones that cannot be said in front of the campus community, they are probably not ones that should be implemented.

We need people to serve on this committee who are open, transparent and honest about what needs to happen at Eastern and the changes that need to be made. They cannot be afraid of saying an opinion they have in front of the public, for fear that it will be “controversial,” as hearing these ideas and opinions during meetings will be a good way for the campus community to understand the direction the committee is moving in, and understand what the committee thinks is best.

Eastern can no longer afford to have people in meetings tasked with figuring out the future of the university being secretive for fear of getting criticized. The moment the members of the committee decided to be a part of it, they received both a privilege and a responsibility. The privilege is being one of the 10 people now representing their respective academic areas and being one of the people whose voice is going to be heard the most when looking at the workgroup’s recommendations. The responsibility is to make sure they are truly representing the campus and being truthful about what changes they think are viable and nonviable from the recommendations already made.

According to the article, the meeting at 3 p.m. Friday is one that will mainly sort out the details of where and when this committee will meet and how. If you, the person reading this, agree that they should be open, we encourage you to go to the Paris room and let the committee members know this. (We realize it is a Friday afternoon on Homecoming weekend, but this is probably worth it.)

The future of Eastern is important to us as a newspaper, and we are sure it is important to you as well. So let us make sure it is a bright future, based off decisions that were made in the spirit of shared governance.