Proactive Leadership the Best way to Address Student Unrest

Proactive Leadership the Best way to Address Student Unrest
  • Opening Intro -

    For most college alumni, giving back to society forms part of their working lifestyle.

    There are many reasons why one would desire to donate their time, services or money to their college.

    From sponsoring a new art program to contributing to a neighborhood medical camp, the list is endless of the myriad of opportunities for making a difference in someone's life.


However, sometimes there are factors that may prevent this goodwill from enriching lives. One of these factors, according to Hartocollis (2016) in her New York Times article, “College Students Protest, Alumni’s Fondness Fades and Checks Shrink,” is campus protests. Hartocollis states that there have been several campus demonstrations in the previous academic year, and this has significantly affected donations to these institutions.

There have been many objections to this disruptive behavior and there is widespread disbelief among alumni about college culture nowadays. While some fundraisers are weighing the impact of these protests on donor contributions, college alumni countrywide have taken a more critical approach. In their assessment of college programs and activities, they contend that students are obsessed with cultural and identity politics.

Also, learners are selecting too many courses, some of which are totally unnecessary. Moreover, there is the perception that colleges do not evaluate long established practices within the proper context. Fraternities are being targeted unfairly and male students are faced with cases of sexual assault. Besides, administrators of colleges are perceived as too timid in dealing with protesters whose messages are an insult to free speech.

Experiences by donors

Donors such as Mr. MacConnell and Scott C. Johnson are aggrieved by actions of university leadership. In Mr. MacConnell’s case, he was “lied to…and dismissed as an old, white bigot,” by Amherst college administration. The college further labeled him as “insensitive” to the objectives of the present college community.

Mr. Johnson, a Yale graduate, visited the university recently and was appalled when activists tried to stop a free speech meeting.

In one incident, a Yale student was recorded shouting at Prof. Nicholas Christakis for failing to provide decent housing for college students. Mr. Johnson observed that the college administrators were not proactive in handling the situation.

Hartocollis (2016) adds that Staff, a fund-raising organization, reported a drop in contributions to the 35 liberal arts universities that it supports. Total contributions for 2016 declined by 25 percent, and donor involvement lessened considerably.

Way forward

Today’s college culture may not be in sync with college traditions that donors such as Mr. MacConnell may wholly agree with. While some of the student demands might seem trivial, such as the removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from Princeton’s buildings and programs, university leadership has to recognize the fact that they must respond to these demands proactively.

Do you feel like your college understands student demands? Here is your chance to tell them and make your voice heard! Share this article on their social media accounts and tag your friends! A problem shared is a problem half solved.

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