I am a parent of two Gustavus students, and sent the following letter to the Board of Trustees:
I just read the April 19, 2013 edition of The Gustavian about the recent student forums with President Ohle. While I am sure these forums were intended to reassure all constituents, they had the opposite effect on me and I am more disturbed than ever about this untenable situation.
First, the concern expressed by many students and faculty was that President Ohle was not responding to their concerns.
In the Gustavian article titled “Listening Post provides setting to discuss student voices,” it said that Dean of Students, JoNes VanHecke attended with President Ohle.
“Van Hecke took notes throughout the sessions to ensure students’ voices were being captured and understood, with plans to email each individual following the sessions with their comments in order to reflect the impact of the listening experience.”
I don’t believe that Dean Van Hecke was accused of not listening to student and faculty concerns. That accusation was directed at President Ohle.
So this begs the question: why wasn’t President Ohle taking notes and emailing each individual “with their comments in order to reflect the impact of the listening experience?”
President Ohle has no interest in becoming engaged in the Gustavus community, he only cares that he appears to be engaged. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. You cannot force President Ohle to be genuine when deep down, he is not genuine about his desire to involve students — or faculty — in the critical issues that are facing Gustavus.
Second, in the Gustavian article titled, “Presidential Cabinet addresses concern at student forum,” President Ohle responds to one anonymous question regarding the Star Tribune article and the question of his resignation by telling students that they are “here to study and to get your degree. Let this stuff go on. There are more important things in your lives to worry about.”
Gustavus instills in its students the importance of being responsible participants of the Gustavus community, but its president is telling them not be involved in this crisis that affects their day-to-day existence there.
Basically, the message he delivered is that they shouldn’t worry their pretty little student heads over this matter. How condescending!
Again, students and faculty are the most important constituents of the Gustavus community. But neither matter very much in President Ohle’s world. A zebra doesn’t change his stripes. Holding student forums will not change the enduring personality traits that make President Ohle unfit as the leader of this institution.
This endeavor strikes me as disingenuous, gratuitous and patronizing. President Ohle wants to create the appearance that he is listening, but he’s not hearing.
And instead of appearing more forthcoming and accountable, his underlying message is, “There, I’ve made myself available to your concerns; now go away and let me continue to do my job in a unilateral, dictatorial fashion.”
This should not stand and the Board should not tolerate it, and as a stakeholder in the Gustavus community. I am growing ever-more weary of the Board’s lack of action in regard to President Ohle’s tenure.
I simply cannot believe that after all of the concerns that have been brought forth, and witnessing how President Ohle has chosen to respond to them, that the Board is not equally troubled.