On Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. the website, GustieLeaks, announced: “In 24 hours, we will retire the documents of GustieLeaks indefinitely. This is our sign of good faith; we believe that focusing on renewal and healing will drive Gustavus to grow.” The statement was true to its word; the website was closed the next day. If one should visit gustieleaks.com, all that will appear is the full text of the press release articulating the original motivation for creating GustieLeaks as well as the reasoning for its closure after the announcement of President Ohle’s retirement.
The press release states that the immediate need for GustieLeaks has passed and a new conversation needs to begin that focuses on the future of the College and the search for the next president. Senior Kelly Dumais saw the GustieLeaks decision as a positive response to the Board’s reaction to concerned voices across campus.
“The message I have gotten now: the Board responded to the Ohle crisis, and I expect change to happen through a repositioning of administrative philosophy,” Dumais said.
Although the GustieLeaks documents are no longer available online, the College Archives received both electronic and paper copies of the documents from various sources with the intention of preserving the collection of documents.
The community conversation persists, however, through the aggregation of letters to the Board posted on the website, GustieVoices. Alum Dan Schulz-Jackson ‘10 is the creator of the GustieVoices website and explained the important difference between the two sites.
“I always found myself frustrated by the anonymity of GustieLeaks; GustieVoices was an answer to that; a place where anyone could openly and publicly submit content,” Schulz-Jackson said.
GustieVoices was created following the impactful release of GustieLeaks in order to share letters of concern with the community when other avenues appeared to be unsuccessful.
“Public letter writing seemed to be somewhat of a last-minute measure when normal communication pathways failed to bear fruit . . . Hopefully, Gustavus won’t for many many years endure anything so divisive and holistically damaging as the situation the college just experienced,” Schulz-Jackson said.
Alumna Bethany Ringdal ‘11 hopes it would remain accessible.
“I envision that GustieVoices will continue to exist as a forum for Gusties to make their voices count. As the current crisis passes with President Ohle’s retirement, GustieVoices will, I’m sure, go under the radar, but I feel content knowing that it will continue to exist as a resource for future situations,” Ringdal said.
Ringdal believes that despite the waning of GustieVoices’ relevance to the evolving campus discussion, its principles and influence has benefitted the Gustavus community in a significant way.
“One real gift that the administrative crisis has given Gustavus is a lesson in civic involvement. Students, faculty, and alumni have all had the chance to exercise our rights of free speech to make our discontent heard; I pray that those civic muscles, now that they’re engaged, will continue to be ‘worked out’—both for the benefit of Gustavus, and for our whole society,” Ringdal said.
As Gustavus begins the search for its 17th president, Dumais stressed the new opportunities that emerge for student involvement.
“We’re at a crossroads, and students should be involved because they can make a difference. Our voice is informed. Our experiences are of concern to the entire Gustavus community,” Dumais said.