Opinion: My utter disappointment in IWU as a graduating senior

By Farah Bassyouni Apr22,2022
Credit: Tíag
Credit: Tíag

As a graduating senior, I finally feel ready to state my disappointment in this university. When I see prospective students touring campus, I have to fight the urge to say, “No! You’re making a mistake!” It breaks my heart to feel this way, especially after the financial and time investment that I have poured into Illinois Wesleyan. 

But I have watched departments I care about get taken away, listened to the lies this university spreads and experienced firsthand the way the Dean of Students office does not care about the safety and well-being of students. These conversations keep getting pushed to the side but nearly every current student I have talked to has expressed similar feelings.

Almost immediately after the university was shut down at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, President Georgia Nugent sent an email announcing the closure of four academic study programs: Greek and Roman studies, international business, American culture studies as well as design, technology, and entrepreneurship (DTE). 

This email from May 21, 2020 was followed by another email that recommended the closure or cancellation of the following other programs: anthropology, religious studies and foreign languages. Both the Educational Studies department and the School of Art were recommended to be cut as well, but were luckily saved. But when professors from these departments retire, the university does not replace them. Several professors have retired or have plans to do so without someone stepping in to take their place.

The liberal arts aspect of this university is slowly crumbling despite Nugent’s refusal to acknowledge the changes she has made.

 In an interview with The Argus in November 2020, President Nugent seemingly skirted around the question of how the university will maintain the liberal arts asset with the cuts of such integral departments. She merely reminded readers and students that the Board of Trustees is mainly made of alumni who benefitted from this type of education. She never directly addressed the issue or the many program closures. It’s disappointing to say the least, as I watch the liberal arts departments fade away.   

After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, when Nugent refrained from using the term “Black Lives Matter,” she was under scrutiny again. In The Argus interview, Nugent acknowledged her lack of effort to responding in an appropriate and timely manner.

President Nugent and the Dean of Students Office hardly make any changes on campus to address student safety and concerns. When the rainbow floor hate crimes were initially made public earlier this year, Dean Karla from the Dean of Students Office sent out an email but initially refused to call the “incidents” hate crimes. Nugent never addressed the hate crimes on the Rainbow Floor, not even passively signing her name on the emails to the student body. This raised concern from many students, including myself.

Between the expedited decline in liberal arts education programs, the lack of discussion of hate crimes and the clear inaction on behalf of the administration for student safety, IWU is failing its students. I realize as time goes on that maybe things will change, but the university administration needs to clearly outline their plan for reformation and actually show the progress being made. The university cannot survive without addressing the problems that are occurring on campus.

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