Every semester, Ohio University invites local reporters to the media roundtable with President Duane Nellis. It’s a time for the reporters to ask any question they want to the president and for the university to be transparent about what is happening at the university.
The last roundtable was held Jan. 11, 2019.
Since that time, a lot has happened at the university that left more questions than answers for students, faculty and staff. As a student, three major topics have come up as a conversation among students that still has many unanswered questions.
At the time of the January roundtable in Cutler Hall, students, faculty and Athens’ residents were outside protesting the removal of delfin bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and does not capitalize their name, as the director of the LGBT Center. Members of the group spoke about bautista’s impact on the community and demanded answers for their removal.
According to former Post reports, bautista had a positive work record and spent thousands on meals and personal purchases. They filed a grievance, which was denied by Nellis. As this went on, the university was suspended from the Campus Pride Index, which was previously ranked four out of five stars, and began a search for a new LGBT Center director.
During Fall Semester 2019, the university suspended all fraternities on the Interfraternity Council after receiving seven complaints of hazing. Other organizations that were suspended included three sororities, two business fraternities, the club rugby team and the Marching 110.
Majority of the Greek life groups and student organizations have been reprimanded with only four still under review.
At the end of last semester and at the start of the Spring Semester, there has been a lot of conversation surrounding the budget crisis.
The university’s enrollment has decreased, which means there is less money coming in. The budget has to be adjusted to make up for the money lost in order to be successful moving forward. Meanwhile, there are claims that there is no crisis at all.
The OU Fun Facts has been trying to raise awareness through banners and meetings about what has been going on. The group also hosted a rally to show their support, which ended with them trying to get Nellis to come out of Culter Hall to speak with them. The group was in contact with Nellis’ office after the rally but soon discussion stopped. They were sent an email from the president that redirected them to Student Senate about their concerns.
The OU American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, has also been trying to get answers about what has been going on at the university. Faculty members feel as if they have been left out of budget planning and decision making when it comes to their departments, especially talks of potential cuts are being discussed.
The media roundtables were held as a way of connecting to the local media and getting answers from the president about what is going on within the university. It is our job as local media to ask the questions and get answers for the members of OU and Athens, but we can not do that when the conversation is not available semesterly like it has been in the past.
The president should not just host this event when the university is doing well and positive things can be talked about. It’s important to be transparent no matter what the university is facing.
In a time where the president should be vocal, we are only hearing silence.