November 19, 2019

What’s Going On With Balfour?

posted on: Thursday September 23, 2010

by Jayo Miko Macasaquit ’11 / Commentary Staff

If you ask the administration why a significant number of Providence College students were confused by the decision to “reorganize” the Balfour Center of Multicultural Affairs over the summer, they will collectively and unashamedly shrug their shoulders with their palms raised and say, “we have no idea why people felt this way, we have no idea where this rumor originated.” There is validity to this assertion, as slight misunderstandings are rife in any large institutional setting. Given that the community of students is spread throughout the country during summer vacation, misunderstandings were almost inevitable. There is a fine line, however, between natural misunderstandings and irresponsibility of the administration in making sure that misunderstandings are minimized.

The administration would have you believe that the reorganization of the Balfour Center of Multicultural Affairs was a long time coming, and that much thought and consideration were brought into the decision-making process. They would have you believe that your concerns and lingering speculations are silly and not their problem. The administration would have you believe that their actions aren’t reactionary, and that no damage was done. The administration has essentially lulled the campus into a sense of widespread confusion and subsequent indifference. Only a handful of people on campus even know what’s going on, for one.

The administration is running a business, after all. Despite the very goal of administrators, whatever it may be, their belief is that student input is not a necessary factor in all decisions. Why would the students want to be involved in something that directly affects them? Why don’t the students just trust the administration? Don’t the students know that administrators are adults with degrees, and that they, the students, couldn’t possibly know what’s best for themselves? Don’t the students know that, despite being college students with adequate critical thinking skills, they couldn’t possibly understand the real world? In the real world, the big boys make the decisions. In the real world, the little people sit down and shut up. In the real world, if the little people are confused, the big boys don’t have to lose sleep. The big boys can just collectively and unashamedly shrug their shoulders with their palms raised and say, “we have no idea why people felt this way, we have no idea where this rumor originated.” In the real world, the little people should just take what the big people give them.

For me, it’s not the reorganization itself that is the main issue. I think those who made use of the Balfour Center in the past would be lying to themselves if they said that there weren’t changes to be made. I can somewhat agree with a lot of what’s come out of the reorganization. Say what you want about the new Balfour Office of Multicultural Activities (formerly known as a closet), but the new center has far more exposure in the Slavin Center than it would ever have had in Harkins. My main concern is the administration’s inability to admit that they were at fault. Despite the fact that all actions post-dismantling of the former Balfour seem reactionary, the administration still maintains that this was planned out. This is extremely hard to believe given that a position was eliminated, an office was repurposed, students were consulted post-decision about systems in place, and Nedzer Erilus was approached one month before the fall semester started. That, my friends, is the very definition of reactionary. It’s also arguably desperate. My other issue, as I’ve previously mentioned, is that to the administration, the students are just kids who don’t know any better. We’ve seen this in the past, with a sneaky passing of a controversial alcohol policy. You’d think with such a student outcry surrounding the alcohol policy, the administration would have learned its lesson.

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