Noah M. Yantis –
On January 26, the Illinois College Student Senate partnered with Illinois College President Barbara Farley to hold the first ‘Farley Forum,’ an open, town-hall style meeting where students can both listen to reports about what has been happening on campus as well as raise concerns about various issues.
Little did either party realize how much drama a certain announcement would cause all over campus.
Student Body President Jovanny Nava began the event with a 20-minute speech about the prior events on campus and what Student Senate had accomplished in the last year. He started with last April when he was elected, and began a rehaul of the Student Senate. Campus monitors were purchased and placed around campus and have been used for announcements and events.
President Nava then went on to talk about the anonymous social media platform, Yik Yak, and how Senate launched a “downvote” campaign to delete mean, harmful messages. Nava then talked briefly about the new IC Movie Channel and Chartwells dining service. His speech ended with questions from the audience about the faculty/student body disconnect, the BLUEprint, and the Senate’s communication ability.
After President Nava spoke, President Farley took the stage and addressed the audience about her job and what it entails. “You [the students] are the reason I get up in the morning,” she began. President Farley moved onto talking about the new lights for the athletic facilities and then eased into an in-depth conversation about the Board of Trustees, the governing body of Illinois College, or as President Farley called them, “her boss.” The Board visits campus this month and Farley spent her first weekend back at school “cramming” for her report to give to the Board. She also spoke briefly about the proposed mascot change, the STRATEGY map, and what employers are looking for in graduates.
Then she made the announcement that is rocking campus.
eFollet is out as the provider of the bookstore and students will incur an additional $620 mandatory fee to their tuition, $310 per semester, to pay for book rentals.This announcement surprised many people, and angered even more. When asked by a student who had made the decision, President Farley replied that there was a committee formed involving three students, three faculty members, and members of the administration that came to this decision, which she then approved of.
The student body was not aware of the decision to switch providers or policy prior to the Forum, a fact that also upset many students. The planned five percent rise in tuition coupled with the new rent-only policy could mean that some students will have to leave IC because they can no longer afford to attend.
At the Forum, President Farley was also asked about how the school planned to raise attendance and the retention rate shortly after the textbook announcement to which she responded that they are currently looking for solutions.
When this issue will be printed, the 11am Textbook Forum hosted by Dean Tobin in McGaw Fine Arts Center would have already came and went, and we expect many students and members of the faculty to be in attendance.
Student Senate has also adopted a disapproving stance on the policy and has produced a survey about the topic, which has over two-thirds of the student body have responded to. The survey suggests that over 90 percent of students disapprove of the proposed policy and that nearly 90 percent of students pay less than the $310 they will be forced to pay next semester. According to the survey, only about 25 percent of the student body currently gets their books from the bookstore on campus.
Groups on campus such as Student Senate, Student Ambassadors, and even the President’s Cabinet have had emergency meetings on this issue since it came to light during the Forum.
The Inaugural Farley Forum was indeed a resounding success, although not by attendance size, but rather because the textbook policy was the firestarter for yet another controversy on campus. The hopes of future Farley Forums are to attract more students and make sure their voice is heard, because without it, who knows if the controversial announcement would have been made on a large scale.
Noah Yantis, from Arthur, Illinois, is a freshman majoring in History with a minor in Political Science and Communication and Rhetorical Studies. Noah is Treasurer of The Rambler and Public Relations Chairman of Student Senate.