Flames of The Torch

As we all know, St. John’s University announced Thursday that the search committee has selected Conrado Gempesaw of Miami University of Ohio as our 17th president (for all of the details, turn to page 3).

The Torch wishes the best to Fr. Joseph Levesque, who will be stepping down at the end of June.

To Dr. Gempesaw, welcome. St. John’s is a respected university with a rich heritage, and we look forward to learning more about you and sharing your goals with the student body.

Here are four things that we at the Torch think are worth focusing on as we enter the next chapter in the University’s history.

First, St. John’s should continue to work on focusing on celebrating our diversity and our status as one of the most racially diverse schools in the nation. It is clear that some groups on campus feel that they are not being adequately represented, and we think that it is important to change that in the upcoming years. To begin, mandatory diversity training for all employees would help alleviate some of the issues.

Secondly, as the Torch has previously advocated, we need a group on campus that supports LGBTQ students. For several years, students have been trying to form a group that will give them a place to meet with other LGBTQ students. Right now, the Spectrum Initiative, a group similar to the Gay-Straight Alliances at our Vincentian sister schools DePaul and Niagara, but not at our own, is attempting to be recognized as an organization—but first, it needs the approval of your administration.

In our own university mission, it states that as a Catholic university “we embrace the Judeo-Christian ideals of respect for the rights and dignity of every person and each individual’s responsibility for the world in which we live.” Therefore, it seems in line with the University mission to respect and represent all walks of life within our community.

Thirdly, enrollment is down. We had a chance to speak with Dr. Rene Parmar, chair of the department of administrative and instructional leadership in the school of education, and she commended the skills and resources that you used to bring enrollment up at Miami University in a small town in Ohio. Since Miami University is similar in size, we are confident in your ability to grow our St. John’s family.

Lastly, Dr. Gempesaw, we, and the student body, would like to see more transparency and accessibility among this administration. Father Levesque made steps in the right direction, and seemed very interested in hearing student’s concerns. He has also been very personable and even rode around on a golf cart in order to meet students during Welcome Week.

We understand it is impossible to reach all 15,000 students, but holding more town hall meetings and making yourself available to listen to the concerns of the student body would go a long way toward building a strong community.

The Torch looks forward to a seeing fresh face represent the university and learning more about what you can accomplish here at St. John’s.

Good luck, Dr. Gempesaw. We look forward to working with you.