Bates students stage protest following faculty restructuring

On Feb. 25, the student Representative Assembly at Bates College passed a vote of no confidence towards their administration. The vote, directed specifically at President Clayton Spencer and Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Josh McIntosh, comes after an increase in students’ frustration with a lack of transparency in the administration.

This issue was brought to the forefront earlier this week when McIntosh announced via email that both the Assistant Dean of Students Keith Tannenbaum and the Associate Dean of Students Holly Gurney will be leaving the College at the end of this year. In an article, Bates’s The Student staff described the two deans as “more than administrators; they are colleagues and friends who are there for us when we need them.”

There is much debate over the imminent departure of Gurney and Tannenbaum—and, specifically, whether it is a result of administrative restructuring or of their own decisions to retire. According to The Student, similar emails announcing the end of faculty members’ careers at the College have been making frequent appearances in students’ email inboxes.

However, many students “feel that they are left in the dark about most of these issues while being notified about them without transparent explanations explaining the rational behind [the administration’s] decisions,” according to the article. Additionally, the emails are said to include little to no detail on how the faculty members’ lost positions will be compensated for.

In a meeting on Feb. 25, Spencer stated his belief that “it is not reasonable for students to be involved in organizational and personnel issues,” in response to the recent controversies.
The Student staff expressed their opposition to Spencer in an editorial, noting that since “the institution includes students on search committees for prospective faculty,” it should apply the same logic to including them in the “decision-making bodies that ultimately oust people from their jobs.”

After announcing the no confidence vote, which only two of 22 members voted against, the Bates College Student Government (BCSG) reiterated what influenced their bold decision. In their statement, BCSG said that while their vote carries “no practical weight,” it should “be seen as a powerful rebuke of the College administration by the student body and their representatives.”

Spencer responded to the BCSG with his own statement, in which he said, “I’m sorry about the vote, and I take it seriously because it suggests that there is a gap between this important work and the perceptions of a group of students on campus.”

On March 1, a group of students expressed their outrage in a very public fashion. The students let down a banner in the Perry Atrium that read “RETIREMENT, RESTRUCTURING,” followed by a list of recently departed faculty and the phrase “…WHO’S NEXT?”

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