Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ASU's Fear of Speaking

An elementary string vibrates through Angelo State University as the spring 2011 semester winds down.  It's not excellence, quality, or commitment, characteristics expected of an institution of higher learning.  Sure, those exist in ASU's hallowed halls, but the resonance regards something darker. It's fear, the primordial "fight or flight" kind.  Widespread fear frequently manifests as silence in organizations.  It saps energy, leaving people unnerved.

Angelo State Uuniversity fosters —among students, faculty, and staff, and across disciplines—a culture of shared governance, open communication, transparent operations, and mutual respect.

People are afraid to speak out, a basic building block for a functional democratic society.  Students paying the freight told me they couldn't publicly share their opinions.  They were told not to rock the boat.  This struck me as odd.  Aren't universities supposed to foster a rich interchange of ideas, even on the topic of draconian budget cuts?

I understand staff and faculty's fear of job loss.  Who likes a sword hanging over their head?  Not Damacles.

It took generations for youth to speak out in oppressive Middle Eastern countries.  Where is America on the freedom scale, when universities ask students not to speak out?

No comments: