The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Faculty Senate shows support for The Battalion

Academic+Resources
Photo by Meredith Seaver
Academic Resources

In the Feb. 14 Faculty Senate meeting, Student Body President Natalie Parks and Speaker of the Faculty Senate Dale Rice expressed their support for The Battalion regarding the recent push for changes in the newspaper’s printing and organization status. 
During the meeting, Speaker Rice said he has received concerns and feedback from both students and faculty members of the university. 
“As many of you are aware, the administration last week basically gave The Battalion, our student newspaper, an ultimatum to give up its student organization status and move under the auspices of the university or face dire fiscal consequences,” Rice said. “I have heard from many of our faculty colleagues in the past four days and the emotions range from outrage to fear.”
With the fear of the unknown at hand, Rice said many faculty fear this could affect the faculty next. Rice also expressed his thoughts regarding the lack of consultation of key players such as journalism professors and students.
“It’s also easy to see why many faculty fear the[ir] academic freedom and their own free speech rights could be next on the hit list,” Rice said. “One of the biggest concerns for me is the absence of a consultation process in decisions that affect students, staff and faculty. Why are decisions repeatedly made unilaterally, although some may be chairing a return to the General Rudder era, I do not believe that is the way to lead a university forward into greatness — and I know many of you feel exactly the same way.”
Hearing from students from on staff at The Battalion as well as the general student population who pick up the papers each week or follow the organization through their digital news, Parks said many students have reached out to protest the decision in concern. Parks said in her role as student body president, she feels it is important to make sure students’ concerns are heard. 
“It has been made pretty clear that the issues at hand extend well beyond what happened to our friends at The Battalion on Thursday afternoon, when they were essentially given an ultimatum of sorts to, in a sense, surrender what has worked incredibly well for them for over 125 years, without having been involved in a single discussion that led up to that point,” Parks said. “This is a repeated theme that still has the opportunity to be remedied in the time ahead, which I’m hopeful about.”
Parks said though there is change ahead, the university should use this to better enhance areas of the university while also keeping traditions which students and former students hold dear. 
“I understand that we are in a time of tumultuous change,” Parks said. “In addition to learning to adapt to a pandemic of all things, the MGT report recommendations really did kind of shake the core of our university and administrative structure, but I also want to say that change can be good. A lot of good things can come from those recommendations.” 
Though the recommendations can hold some excellent changes to propel the university forward, Parks said there are concerns with changes being currently implemented.
“I really have noticed this overall just kind of lack of communication and collaboration from university officials when it comes to making decisions about student life and extracurricular[s], specifically on campus,” Parks said. “Myself and fellow student leaders have witnessed and been on the receiving end of these patterns of unnecessary administrative oversight into areas that have functioned for decades without the influence of executive orders; demands for immediate levels of significant change without consultation of key stakeholders, those stakeholders being the students.”
Emphasizing the student voices is of utmost importance as the university begins to embark on “The Path Forward,” Parks said.
“Our voices must be included in all future decision-making processes,” Parks said. “I really want to say that the Student Government Association is very much willing to work and partner with the Faculty Senate in the time ahead to ensure that all constituencies on campus are heard, and we are very open to collaboration and open communication across all fronts all the time.”
Following the presentation of information regarding the topic, multiple senators, including College of Medicine’s Rajesh Miranda, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science’s Leslie Easterwood and College of Engineering’s Jorge Alvarado, showed support toward the current status of The Battalion. 
Though no decisions were made in the current meeting, the executive board will be looking into how it can express its support for students and The Battalion during this time.

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