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

The Battalion

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

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Opinion: President Banks owes more to Texas A&M students, faculty

Opinion+columnist+Sam+Somogye+analyzes+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+MGT+Consulting+report+and+argues+that+university+President+M.+Katherine+Banks+is+not+doing+enough.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

Opinion columnist Sam Somogye analyzes Texas A&M’s MGT Consulting report and argues that university President M. Katherine Banks is not doing enough. 

When the worlds of academia and politics combine, it’s bound to be splendid, right? As many Aggies are seeing, this reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Last week, the MGT of American Consulting’s report on university organization was released by Texas A&M’s administration. This report is a mixed bag, which is to be expected of a 132-page document with recommendations on how to restructure one of the biggest universities in the country. To be completely honest, it’s a surprise the report wasn’t longer.
One component of the report is not a mixed bag, though: the university administration’s response, specifically from A&M President M. Katherine Banks. Her response is cut and dry; it’s black and white; it’s as clear as the blue sky on a Texas summer day. In layman’s terms, Banks’ response sucks.
Banks’ office has provided students and faculty two weeks to share their thoughts on the report through an online feedback forum. Basically, her office expects campus members to take time out of their already-demanding curriculums to read a lengthy report, go to an online forum and write their responses, all in just two weeks. Oh — one more tid-bit that was left out — you can only write your response once. Seems completely fair and logical!
In reality, this rationale is far from fair, and it’s even farther from logical. This method is a cop-out. It shows Banks has no real interest in what students think about this report; otherwise, she would be doing a lot of things differently.
To start, she would give Aggies more than two weeks to respond. When asked, Student Body President Natalie Parks said, “Frankly, I do not believe that two weeks is enough time to gather the appropriate amount of student feedback that I would see needed for a 132-page report that covers a lot of different proposed changes that, if accepted, could significantly impact a lot of different facets of student life.”
This idea makes one wonder how much Banks actually cares about student input.
Moreover, Banks needs to use her most valuable skill, that being — drum roll please — educating.
It’s entirely reasonable for Banks to hold town halls where she and other officials break down the report for students. Shoot, at the very least, they could hop on a Zoom call and go over the report, highlight and simplify the major points and make sense of what a lot of students see as jargon.
When asked if Banks could be doing more, Parks said, “I think so. I think I would honestly find it very helpful from the perspective of a student who has read the report for even administration to do a type of listening session.”
The university also announced decisions would be made by early December on which recommendations from the report will be implemented. So, it’s going to announce what administration plans on doing less than three months after the report has been released, while allowing minimal time for student feedback. This ridiculous timetable tells us two things.
First, Banks likely knew what was in the report before it was released. No responsible person would allow themselves 2 ½ months to make decisions that could turn a university upside down.
Second, she doesn’t actually care what students or faculty think about this report. Because, once again, 2 ½ months is a ridiculously short period of time to gather enough information from different perspectives regarding changes of this magnitude.
At the very least, six months of waiting, gathering more information and listening to student and faculty concerns would be appropriate, and even that period of time would be pushing it.
As individuals who pay thousands of dollars to attend this university, students deserve more skin in the game. Our voices deserve to be heard.
This totally chill and not-at-all-frustrated writer reached out to Banks’ office to ask for an interview and response before writing this column, but shockingly garnered no response.
To be an effective leader, you must do your due diligence for those you serve, and that is not coming from Banks, not even a little.
Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion.

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