Thanks to Sarah Colangelo for last week’s article regarding Professor Blaheta’s tenure trial. As one of the people interviewed, I want to emphasize two serious questions it raises. First, and most pressingly, is the question of tenure for Professor Blaheta; I think the vast majority of students who know him in any capacity would agree that he is an excellent professor and invaluable member of the Knox community, and to remove him from it would be a serious mistake.
Second is the severe disconnect existing between the Knox administration and the student body. Dean Breitborde may feel students’ voices are adequately represented in the tenure process, but that is simply not true. The only student input is the “summary data” from course evaluations. People who have written to Jan Koran, Chair of the Board of Trustees, have received a brief, copy-pasted response saying that “[the Board] must rely on the judgments of the faculty and the staff.” She says nothing about students, and her response makes it clear that she is not interested in what we have to say. Students are the ones who interact most with the professors, and professors have the most direct impact on students’ lives. Anyone who has taken a class with Don knows he is a great professor, and if the administration doesn’t know that, it’s because they’re not listening.
There has been talk on the Facebook group and elsewhere of using the power of purse strings; today’s students and recent grads are tomorrow’s donors, and we should bring this up when we contact the administration. There has even been talk of a senior challenge boycott. The implication here is that we as individuals don’t matter to the administration, only our money does; what saddens me is that I have come to believe it.
When I was accepted to this school, they told me I was Knox. If the only thing that means anymore is that I’m a future donor, then Knox has gone in a direction I cannot follow. I came here because I fell in love with the students, the teachers, and the vibrant sense of community I felt when I visited. Part of that community is people like Don Blaheta, who actively contribute to making it better. If fishing for donations and making us look good on paper has supplanted the goal of building and maintaining the community of creative, talented individuals I have come to love, then I am no longer Knox, and I will not be sad to leave this place behind come June.
Class of 2010