Discourse / Editorials / Xavier Romano / April 8, 2010

Thoughts from the Embers: Open communication

On the small Knox campus, it is inevitable that rumors will spread like wildfire. Usually, these rumors are about what happened at a party last weekend or who hooked up with whom last night. But now, the campus is abuzz with rumors concerning the physical absence of the Dean of Students and nobody seems to know exactly what his story is. While some students seem convinced he is no longer employed on campus, the reason for his being “on leave” has not been disclosed to the campus at large.

These are the things we know for sure: an e-mail was sent to all students on March 4 explaining that then Dean of Students Xavier Romano would be on leave and Associate Dean Debbie Southern would be taking his place. On March 8, the Faculty Committee voted on resolutions that would separate the Dean of Students from automatically chairing the Student Life Committee and the resolution was sent to SLC for comments. On March 28, Student Senate President Heather Kopec sent an e-mail to Greek presidents stating that Romano was “terminated” from his position. On March 30, Kopec and other students held a “sit-in” in support of Romano and administration transparency.

Something does not add up here. The student body was alerted when Romano took a leave of absence but without an explanation as to why. The students only know, for sure, that Romano is on leave. Then, suddenly, it has become necessary for some students to protest in support of Romano.

The problem is that only a select few students seem to know the status of Romano’s employment at Knox. The rest of us are in the dark about the details of what happened, therefore we don’t know whether to support Romano or not. If, indeed, he has been “terminated,” certainly we’d like to know whether the “termination” was fair or not. President Roger Taylor informed TKS that Romano is still officially “on a leave of absence.” But the campus at large has not heard about the situation since early March.

By not informing the student body about exactly what happened, the administration has left a lot of room for gossip on campus. The rumors have run wild, ranging from the raunchy and scandalous reasons for Romano’s absence to accusing the administration of making him a scapegoat. All we here at TKS want to know is the truth about what happened.

Of course, we students understand about what can be legally said regarding this situation. We don’t expect all the intimate details. We just want to know, officially, whether Xavier Romano has permanently left campus and what the stated reason for that leaving, in any capacity, is.

For most faculty and staff, their comings and goings occur with little scandal. Well-loved colleagues announce their impending absence and then celebrate on their last day with cake and tearful goodbyes. They retire home or switch jobs and Knox moves on. But in Romano’s case, we’re stuck.

The student newspaper can’t comment on how Romano impacted his colleagues, but many of us students were impacted daily by Romano’s presence. He was our Dean of Students, the person we met with if we had a problem on campus. Often times, he worked with us in order to solve those problems, whether they were completely resolved or not.

He was a Greek advisor and proponent of Greek life on campus and was a resource for the new organizations. He was the chair of the Student Life Committee, which meets weekly to discuss issues regarding Student Life. He was a large presence at orientation and has been our “Dean of Flunk” for the past several years, helping us celebrate Flunk Day in the spring.

Until he took his leave, Xavier Romano was a big presence on campus for most students, even if he didn’t significantly impact our individual lives. Now he’s gone and we’re left wondering why.

Sure, he held a lot of head positions at Knox, some of which were called a “conflict of interest.” But he held those positions for several years, what’s so different about it now?

It feels like there must be another reason, something that the majority of campus doesn’t know, for Romano’s absence. Somehow, communication between the administration and the students has broken down and we’ve been left with all sorts of rumors to explain why our Dean is no longer on campus and whether that is a permanent arrangement or not.

TKS recommends that the administration create a system to better relay information to Knox students because, for the most part, we are kept out of the loop. We often don’t know when the school has been given large donations. We don’t know how the school is doing in terms of next year’s enrollment. We don’t know what happened to our Dean of Students. We don’t know when administrative committees meet. These are all things, believe it or not, average students are interested in.

Students want to be kept in the loop. Therefore, TKS asks that the administration send out a monthly, or even term-ly, report about the happenings from the administrative level. We live on campus now and our lives are directly impacted by the successes and scandals at the administrative level.

Currently, the faculty and trustees are e-mailed reports about the status of campus. The reports give information about the financial and enrollment status of the college as well as addressing other issues of interest.

As the camps news publication, TKS is privy to these reports in order to find story ideas. We’ve found the report helpful in understanding how the campus administration works. Perhaps other students would find that report helpful too and they could draw conclusions from the facts instead of filling in the empty space with fabrications.

TKS Staff

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