By Evan Le’Mon
Being a student leader at Wesley was never easy. Trying to juggle grades, sports, and the mind-numbing bureaucracy that came with hosting events on campus was an undertaking to say the least. Getting students to come to said events was another story in itself. When it was all said and done, however, it was always worth it.
Still, I do not envy the school’s current student leaders. If the reports I’ve heard from those I’m still in touch with are true, the same hurdles my peers and I faced during my time at “Stressley College” have only gotten higher.
The most glaring of which, in my opinion, is a complete lack of accountability and a serious need for a shift in priorities, starting from the top down.
Wesley’s financial woes are no secret. Whether they’re actually serious enough to warrant rumors of the school being shut down is anyone’s guess.
When the administration encourages people not to talk to journalists, rumors are bound to spread regardless of their validity. I can certainly understand not wanting to lower morale or give the school bad publicity.
But when you cut the lines of communication, it just makes it look like you have something to hide – especially when reports from national publications directly contradict statements made by the administration.
When the U.S. Department of Education places your school on a watchlist due to concerns over “financial responsibility,” I think it’s safe to say you have more important things to worry about than student journalists.
Also, if your concern is truly with student morale, then I’m sure having students see their school in the news for negative reasons like this isn’t exactly helping.
Members of the administration aren’t the only ones who need to shift their priorities, though.
When I saw Wesley’s SGA Twitter page attacking a former Whetstone editor-in-chief, I was both shocked and disappointed. As a former journalist for the paper myself, we’re used to people being upset at us for promoting the truth.
But to have the governing body for all the student orgs on campus go out of their way to send petty shots at an alumni was particularly disheartening to me. Especially considering how much the alumna in question, Kristen Griffith, actually accomplished while she was here.
I must say, this new class of student leaders must be cut from a different cloth than my class and the class that came before us.
Not to sound elitist, but such behavior was honestly unheard of in our time. I hate to seem like I’m coming down on them because I know there’s greatness still present on this campus, but this incident was a poor representation of it.
However, I don’t place the buck solely on their shoulders. This lack of respect for student journalists has a precedent, one that I believe starts at the highest levels of Wesley’s administration. Student leaders may set the tone for the student body, but the administration, to an extent, sets the tone for the student leaders, especially for an organization that works as closely with them as SGA does.
Over this past weekend, I actually gave an alumni perspective on student leadership at an open panel sponsored by Wesley’s Office of Student Affairs. One of the last things I told the leaders who attended was, “As a student leader, it can seem like it’s you against the world on campus, including even the administration at times. Your mission here may even seem futile. In those moments, you have to keep fighting the good fight. Because if not you, then who else will?”
I truly believed what I was saying at the time, and I still do.
But I have to be honest; I can understand why both students and student leaders would lose hope.
How can we honestly talk about inspiring hope on campus when students aren’t even sure there’ll be a campus to come back to in the next couple of years?
For their sake, I hope things turn around, and soon.
Evan Le’Mon graduated from Wesley in 2017, and now works as a banker and entrepreneur in Wilmington.