East Carolina University has a problem, and it starts at the very top. Recently, the UNC Board of Governors voted to take no action regarding the scandal involving Board of Trustees members Robert Moore and Phil Lewis. A lot has been said regarding these matters, so I decided it was time I weighed in as well.
While Lewis resigned and the BOT voted to have Moore censured, this action does not feel like enough. I don’t pretend to know all of the backroom politics that are involved in the situation, but, it’s clear to me that politics must be the reason behind this lack of an effective solution.
The scandal and ensuing chaos surrounding both the BOG and the BOT are perfect examples of why I have always maintained the notion that partisanship and political lines in general have no place in local issues.
Local politics is about what is best for the people in the area, whether we are talking about a city, a county or a university. When corruption and partisanship get involved, the local region always suffers without fail.
It doesn’t matter if you are running as a Republican or Democrat, although I recognize people put great stock (perhaps too much) in party affiliation. What matters is that you have the people’s best interest at heart, and by letting politics get in the way you are doing a disservice to your constituents.
I think that is the main reason the scandal, along with the one involving Dan Gerlach, have gotten me so heated. ECU continues to suffer because certain people care more about personal interests than what the students want, and what is best for the students.
Going back to Gerlach, the student body was very clear in its support for Chancellor Dan, regardless of the allegations levied against him. And yet he was pressured into resigning from his interim position shortly before evidence that came to light said it was all a setup.
The whole situation just felt like someone had a vendetta against Gerlach, and even though he was doing good things and acted as a chancellor who actually inspired his students, whatever ulterior motive behind everything was given a higher priority than the will of the students.
When I heard about the scandal with Lewis and Moore, I could not help but think of the events concerning Gerlach back in October. This is another blatant example of university officials taking matters into their own hands for personal benefit, rather than focusing on the students they serve.
Local politics, and by extension university administration, fails if it does not focus on the good of the people. The best candidate should be selected for the job, regardless of the candidate’s personal affiliations. That clearly didn’t happen in the case of Gerlach, and it doesn’t seem to be happening in the case of the BOT. I am not sure what the solution is, but ECU deserves a break, and it deserves administrators that will put the university and its students above themselves.