President Maric — in order to do well by students, you have to listen to them 

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Radenka Maric, soon to be appointed as interim president of the University of Connecticut, photographed at the Stowe Library at UConn Health on Jan. 14, 2022. Photo by Sean Flynn/UConn Photo

Before I begin this article, I just want to make a few things clear. I will be speaking here as both a University of Connecticut student, as well as a trustee student organization officer. However, my words here do not reflect the official opinion of The Daily Campus. 

When I found out that interim President Maric was appointed to the full position of UConn president this morning, I was immediately not sure how to feel. If there’s one thing other than the COVID-19 pandemic that has defined my time here in Storrs, it’s the revolving door of presidents that’s been in action since former President Herbst left office right before my freshman year. So hopefully, if nothing else, this appointment will finally stabilize the seat. However, if that turns out to be the case, and we’re about to enter a long-term Maric regime here at UConn, there are definitely some issues that need to be addressed. 

We need more up-front transparency 

If there’s one thing that higher-ups have not been the past few years, it’s easily transparent. The most recent events are a perfect example of this., as I can say as an executive of The Daily Campus that the paper only found out that the board would be selecting the new president during Wednesday’s meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The fact that this information was not given earlier shows that not only is there a transparency problem with UConn’s administration, but this problem is often specifically between admin and the student body. As the people who give this institution its baseline purpose, students deserve to be in the know about university issues, and this knowledge needs to be up front, not delivered at the 11th hour. 

On another transparency note, the UConn Labor Coalition sent a letter to the board of trustees on Sept. 21, 2022, illustrating that this frustrating issue has been noticed by members of the community throughout the university’s many roles. 

“We write as a coalition to express our grave concern about the stability and reputation of UConn and the current presidential search process,” said UCLC,  “which has failed to include meaningful participation from faculty, students and staff.” 

Students are more than just the numbers 

After the appointment of Maric today, board of trustees chairman Dan Toscano sent out an official announcement regarding the decision. In it, he referred to Maric as “determined to get results” and focused on “achieving measurable results.” While he also stated that “no success is more important to [Maric] than student success,” the focus on measurable results is worrying. The simple truth is that sometimes when it comes to human beings, there are many indispensable facets of life that are not easily measurable.  

For example, student body president Mason Holland said in an op-ed last week: “Beyond offering personal and academic support, the [cultural] centers provide a community for the students they serve. Many of those students would not still be at the university had it not been for the work of the cultural centers and programs.”  

Things like the support that cultural centers give to marginalized students at UConn are important truths that cannot be simplified into data. If a president looks at only the numbers and attempts to understand the thousands of students here at UConn, not only would they come across as incredibly tone-deaf, but they would be failing the very people who justify the seat they hold. The only way to gain knowledge of these immeasurables is to actually interface with students. If students are pushing back on an issue, it is worth it to at least hear them out. For this reason, if the newly-minted president is reading this article, I beg you to read this article and others that will come after it, as well as to go into the Oct. 3 town hall meeting, with an open mind. For those who do not know, that town hall will be held at 6 p.m. in Torrey Life Sciences room 154. 

Conclusion 

Whether members of the UConn community like it or not, President Maric has been appointed. Now that there is a more permanent person in office, it’s time that the community began to work on the issues that plague this university, but that will be impossible if the president refuses to work with us. 

To the community — it is our duty as part of this institution to make our voices heard, and to push for the changes we believe need to be implemented here. 

To President Maric — it is part of your duty to hear our voices, and that means all of them. UConn will not be able to function as intended until everyone involved with this place is given their seat at the table.  

Oh, and the board of trustees may state that they are “21 for 1” and that they represent the interests of everyone at UConn, but if that’s true, the board and the president should let that one speak for itself. 

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