Since July 2016, UW Student Media has been one of several student groups on campus mistreated by administration.
This problem arose over space allocation for our department. However, this editorial has not been written to discuss space allocation in the Union.
This editorial was written to call attention the manner in which Vice President “for Student Affairs” Sara Axelson, and those under her supervision, has treated students over the past year or more.
The primary theme of that treatment is deception. Through this process student affairs, and specifically Axelson, has been dishonest with students.
The first, and perhaps most significant example of this is the fact that Student Media was not even informed that we may lose our space until after an entire floor plan had been drafted by an independent architect.
Worse still may be the reason our department would be moved. In the minute’s attached to the third party consultants (ALM2S) report, it shows a recommendation from UW to reduce Student Medias footprint.
In an interview, and on several other occasions, Axelson was asked if this recommendation came from her. She consistently said she did not remember.
However, in an email written by Axelson on Mar. 20, 2016 she said, “We met with the consultant who shared some scenarios in the attachment in which we offered significant feedback. Bottom line is that they will return to us recommendations that include these key components with some variations.”
Axelson went on in the email to list those components, including, “Relocate the Veteran’s Center to the Union (Most likely 3rd floor, west wing,” and “Reduce the foot print of Student Media on the 3rd floor.”
Axelson admits in the email that the Veterans would rather not be in the Union.
This email is concerning for two reasons. The first is that in the BI’s initial interview with Axelson she first claimed that these were the recommendations of the consultant. After being pressed on the issue she then said she could not remember who made the recommendation.
It is clear from this email that she made the recommendations. Beyond that they were issued as “key components” for the consultants, a rather difficult thing to forget.
Another example of Axelson’s department lying, affected not only Student Media, but the Veteran Center as well. Throughout the process of trying to persuade administration to vet the floor plan returned by the third party consultants, Student Media was told, “Nothing is set in stone.”
In a meeting with Axelson, Eric Webb, Dean of Students Sean Blackburn, Vice President of ASUW Tyler Wolfgang and President Michael Rottelini, it became clear that was not true.
At that meeting we asked Axelson if the Veterans, who would now occupy our space, knew that the plan was on hold. Axelson said she didn’t know, and after Student Media demanded an answer, she asked Blackburn to answer for her.
“They’re full steam ahead,” Blackburn said.
Axelson and her department were telling Student Media not to worry as nothing was set in stone, while simultaneously telling the veterans they could go ahead with their plans to renovate the space we still occupied.
At least there was a union vision board assembled to act as a first line of defense though right?
While there was a board created at the outset, it had only two students and was quickly abandoned.
Daniel Kerbs, an ASUW senator and a member of the Union Vision board reached out in an April email asking if the board would consider the options.
Rather than answer Kerbs, Darcy DeTienne, Director of the Wyoming Union, forwarded the email to Axelson and asked, “Since it was decided to get approval on a plan without going back to the team and involving them, how should I respond to this?”
Axelson and her subordinates had decided to move on from the union visioning board without so much as telling them.
The most recent deception came a week ago, when Student Media sat down with Blackburn to discuss the possibility of moving our department to the administrative offices in the basement of the union.
Blackburn told Student Media that nothing had been decided and that we would have a chance to further consider that space.
Unfortunately that chance never came. We received an email less than a week later informing us that they are moving forward with the plan and that the vetting process had concluded.
The bottom line is that the people whose job it is to look out for students is lying directly to students. They are pushing policies and changes that the affected parties have advocated against.
The question becomes why? Why push an agenda with which most students associated disagree? Why lie if they’re not doing anything wrong?
Student Affairs’ number one goal should be to listen to and help students. They have elected to do so by ignoring and lying to us.
ASUW must draft a resolution to halt this process. It has been rushed and forced from the beginning and is only convenient for those making the decision.
This is our school, they should serve us, not themselves.
Here are links to the documents: