Opinion: The cost of truth: LU administrators, board fail transparency test

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Opinion: The cost of truth: LU administrators, board fail transparency test

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EDITORIAL STAFF

 Each year, thousands of Lindenwood students pay upwards of $25,000 to attend the university. 

$16,900 for tuition. 

$8,700 for residential charges. 

$400 for a health and activity fee. 

$300 for a communication fee in residence halls.

$300 for a technology fee.

Shouldn’t the money we pay provide transparency about the decisions affecting our education?

Clearly, administrators favor a lack of information and vague responses instead of honesty with those funding their mission: students and families. 

The evidence is in their actions. 

In June 2018, Lindenlink/the Legacy staff got the news no college journalism students want to get: The administration pulled funding to print Legacy magazine. 

Administrators mentioned something about the budget, something about “better educational opportunities,” but something more was hidden behind the cleverly concocted facades. 

Abruptly axing the Legacy and offering little-to-no coherent reason left students, alumni and families of students scratching their heads

Our content, covering topics like sexual assault, mental health, religion and alcohol brought us recognition from groups like the Society of Professional Journalists, the Missouri College Media Association and the College Media Association. The awards brought honor and recognition to the university.

We also consistently received positive feedback from the community, and our social media engagement increased tenfold. 

Yet, the administration claimed it received significant pushback from “higher-ups” regarding the content we produced. 

The staff of Lindenlink/the Legacy requested shortly after the announcement that the College Media Association conduct an investigation.

While this was going on, administrators told the staff several times to “bring us a proposal” for a new and improved magazine, but when we did, we got the response “That ship has sailed.” We weren’t getting a magazine back. 

As frustrating as this was, day after day, we continued doing our jobs, from covering the human interest stories about students innovating and creating waves on campus, to covering the hard-hitting stories like investigative work on Lindenwood’s abrupt cancellation of the TEDx event

Then, oddly, administrators changed their minds. The magazine was back, but in a limited capacity. Instead of several issues a semester, we got one. We were grateful, of course, but still scratching our heads. 

Before we announced the decision, President Michael Shonrock was placed on paid administrative leave and subsequently fired. Lindenlink reporters broke the story and continued following up. 

We, the student journalists, confronted board members after the meeting demanding answers. 

And our experience with the board echoed our experience with the administrators. 

When we asked a board member if he was on campus for the meeting, he smugly responded by saying he was only here to tour the campus and whistled on the way to his car, escorted by security. 

Yet again, we were met with indifference, deafening silence and a clear disregard for communicating impactful decisions to students. 

Clearly, the price we pay does not afford us “real experience and real success,” when vital parts of our education are actively stripped from the curriculum for no coherent reason. 

The price we pay does not afford us reliable communication from the administration and the board members about the leadership of our university. 

Clearly, the price we pay is not high enough for the truth.