In late January, it was revealed that two East Carolina University Board of Trustees members had offered financial support to a student who they wished to run Student Government Association elections.
This has, naturally, sparked outrage among students and alumni alike. But much of the discussion I’ve heard on campus focuses around why “ECU has so many issues right now.” I’ve heard my peers mention that "no other college in NC is facing the issues we are."
Like any other institution, ECU has seen its rises and falls. This most recent scandal involving BOT members Phil Lewis and Robert Moore is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of behind the scenes meddling from those who claim they work for the “university’s advancement.”
How does bringing ECU into a negative light yet again advance our great university? Short answer: it doesn’t. The people in positions of power on these boards may indeed think they have the best interests of the university at heart, but have failed to show it in their actions.
While many of the members on BOT and other boards within the university say they have students interests at heart, it does not show. For example: BOT members voting to raise the athletic fees paid by students by nearly $70 is not prioritizing student wants and needs.
Take a look at the Silent Sam issues at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill: it shows another power struggle between students and administration. It was revealed this past month that the UNC System office paid $74,999 to pay off the Sons of Confederate Veterans. While this was not paid using student money or taxpayer money, imagine how that makes African-American students feel? The system running their university is paying the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Another example of corruption is stated clearly in the transcript between Lewis, Moore and the unnamed ECU student. John Bell, NC Assembly member, and Republican Senator Jim Perry are cited in the transcript as “wanting to see change” within the ECU BOT.
Why are senators and a Republican majority leader within the North Carolina Assembly wanting to “see change” within the BOT? What right do these men have to meddle with the operations of our university beyond state funding? Neither are alum from ECU; Bell is a UNCW alum and Perry attended UNC Chapel Hill and NC State. It seems as though those outside of ECU always want to have a say in our university.
My peers and I are fed up. Students are tired of reading about our great university in a negative light. The only reason we are seen in a negative light is because of the “leaders” who try to better ECU, but instead dig our institution into a deeper hole. The students of ECU and all students throughout the UNC System deserve leaders in our universities who care about us, and not just money and votes. Students deserve to be seen for the positive things we are doing on our campuses, not the selfish, immature ways of those who have brought unwanted light on ECU.
This being said, I would like to point out that the majority of ECU is filled with wonderful administrators, faculty and staff who love ECU and its students. These people are the reason that ECU has gotten through and will continue to persevere through storms.
My point is simple: students deserve better. ECU deserves better. The only way to fix the negativity forced on us by news outlets and those that claim they try to improve the university is for students to speak up and vote to make change. ECU students are tired of defending the school they love from scandals and bad news articles focused around leaders such as Lewis and Moore. It makes our university look unprofessional.
If the university and its board members truly wish to improve student life, admission rates and student morale, they will take out the rot that these board members and other leaders have planted into the heart of ECU.