Phi Alpha Loses $10,000: disconnect between students and administration

Noah Yantis –

On Illinois College’s campus, the disconnection in communication between students and administration is more prevalent than ever following a recent event involving the Phi Alpha literary society and the administration.

The Phi Alpha Board of Trustees approved $10,000 to renovate Lower Beecher Hall for President Jimmy Carter’s visit on Tuesday, October 14. Due to the tight scheduling, President Carter was unable to step foot in Beecher, making him the first Phi Alpha lecturer to not see the inside of the historic hall.

Due to Carter’s security detail and the tight scheduling, the President was unable to be inducted into the society in Beecher. Instead, his ceremony took place in Whipple Hall at 10am. The suggestion to have the ceremony in Whipple was offered by Congressman Paul Findley, who said in an e-mail, “I suggested the Phis approve [President Carter’s] honorary membership in advance and present a certificate to him at any time and place convenient to the former President.”

The President was inducted in Whipple and the ceremony included honorary Phi Alpha member Dr. Khalaf Al Habtoor and Congressman Findley.

“The ceremony was a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for the Men of Phi Alpha,” says Illinois College President Barbara Farley.

The honorary induction took place in Whipple Hall, and was followed by a tour of Congressman Findley’s office and the newly-built Dr. Al Habtoor-funded archives in Schewe Library. “I was personally delighted for the Phis to be able to meet with President Carter when no other student group could,” said President Farley. The ceremony lasted no more than 25 minutes and the President was then on his way to the archives to tour the facilities and meet and take pictures with members of the administration.

Since the President’s visit to campus, the Phi Alpha literary society wrote a letter to President Farley that addressed their concerns regarding President Carter’s failure to visit Beecher Hall.

When Phi Alpha President Matt Nelson was interviewed about the President’s visit, he denied any contact had been made with President Farley regarding the issue. When The Rambler attempted to contact other active members of Phi Alpha, the actives stated that they were not allowed to comment on the matter and that President Nelson would take all questions.

In a later interview, President Farley contradicted President Nelson’s statements and confirmed that the Phi Alpha literary society had contacted her via letter stating the society had “concerns and disappointments” of President Carter not being in Beecher Hall. This letter had been sent to President Farley before Phi Alpha President Nelson was interviewed about the matter.

The letter was leaked to The Rambler by an anonymous source and contains concerns regarding a ‘disconnection’ between the school’s administration and the student body. In an anonymous, internal Student Senate survey, the Senators expressed that they believe the most pressing concern on campus is a similar ‘disconnection’ between administration and the student body. In the letter from Phi Alpha to President Farley, the Phis ask “that future lectures see improvement in administrative-Phi Alpha lines of communication.”

Members of the Student Senate Leadership Council have commented on the ‘disconnect’ that is present on campus saying, “the Student Senate will be working towards improving communication between the student body and the administration in order to avoid situations like this in the future.”

Although the situation is in the past, it is important that students and the administration learn from it in order to avoid a similar situation in the future.

NOTE: A copy of the letter sent to President Farley and the schedule for the visits of President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Khalaf Al Habtoor, and the Honorable Congressman Paul Findley can be found in the links provided below.

Phi Alpha Letter: Phi Alpha Letter to Barbara Farley (Copy)

Phi Alpha Literary Society Lecture (10/14): Final schedule for AHG TCC visit.xlsx – Campus copy

Noah Yantis, from Arthur, Illinois, is a freshman majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Communication and Rhetorical Studies. Noah participates on the golf team, is a Class of 2018 Student Senator and Chairman of the Public Relations Committee, and is a features and sports writer for The Rambler.


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