Flames of the Torch: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

On Tuesday night, we got word from Mark Benavides, vice president elect of Student Government, Inc. and organizations committee chair, that a scaled down version of the previously-cancelled annual town hall meeting, usually featuring Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of the University, would be next Monday, April 15th.

Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, vice president of student affairs, Dr. Danny Trujillo, associate vice president for student affairs, a person from dining services and possibly other administrators will take the place of Harrington in this new meeting, according to Benavides. It is unclear why Harrington will no longer attend. For a student body and faculty seeking answers, this lack of accountability is unacceptable.

The second issue is an answer to a question that is most likely on the minds of most people reading this editorial – why wasn’t this story in the news section of the Torch as well? Simply put, it is because by the time the news reached us regarding this rescheduled town hall meeting, it was too late to put a full article together. That’s right – a meeting with the University community in which the students and faculty get to voice their concerns to those who run it still hasn’t been publicly announced. And it’s less than a week away.

Yes, we received the email from Peter D’Angelo, chairman of the Board of Trustees, yesterday afternoon, which broke the silence regarding the Chang/Harrington/Wile saga. But it added nothing new, and if anything, seemed to signal there was a lot more silence to come.

If University officials truly aim at proving they are handling this situation “in full recognition of its oversight obligations and the best interests of the University and its students, faculty, and staff,” they should have displayed greater attention to detail in announcing the rescheduled meeting.

By not releasing information concerning the meeting to the entire student body and faculty at an earlier date, University officials are signaling that they are not fully confident in hosting a forum where any issues beyond student organizations and dining hall operations are discussed.

There’s no doubt that the University is acknowledging that there are important issues at hand. However, there’s also no doubt that the manner in which the University is discussing these issues does nothing but help fuel the suspicions of the St. John’s community.

The faculty petition calls for transparency during the investigation and we acknowledge that yesterday’s email to the University community was a step in that direction. However, Harrington owes these forums to the students and the faculty, and by saving him from scrutiny, the University puts its own motives into question yet again.

New board, same commitment

The recently departed editorial board faced the tremendous task of regaining the University’s trust in the Torch. It is safe to say they accomplished that.
Now, as we, the new board, take the reigns, we’re tasked with the challenge of continuing the strides taken in the last year. It is now our job to carry on reporting the news of the University with integrity, honesty and intensity.

While we are losing staff members that are integral reasons for why students and faculty alike choose to pick up the Torch, we enter into the era of an editorial board that is fully capable of maintaining the high standard that is now expected of us.

We hope that you continue reading as we continue to report the important issues concering our University as well as the stories that sometimes get lost in the shuffle.