It took less than two weeks for OU students to get shorted in the search for a new president.
On Tuesday, the Undergraduate Student Congress unanimously approved SGA President J.D. Baker’s selections to nominate as members of the search committee — selections Baker said he made by himself in under 24 hours after receiving notice from the Board of Regents on Oct. 2 that he had one week to find nominees.
There is a lot of blame to go around. Some of it rests with us at The Daily. We had read the regents’ policy manual about the search committee, but we failed to press for clarification on how those nominees would be selected. The manual specifies that the faculty, staff and student governance organizations will choose the nominees, but, for students, that could encompass several organizations. We should have figured out how the process would work.
Some of it also rests with Baker. While we applaud his decision to put his decisions up for congressional vote — something he did not have to do — the end result does not make students feel represented. Realistically, there was no way Student Congress could have done anything but rubberstamp the selections. Baker was put in a tough position, but many students don’t feel represented by SGA, and low voter turnout in the presidential election and little public debate makes the idea that these selections have been “vetted” by the student body a dubious one. Picking his own vice president, a student congress leader and graduate and law school student government leaders will elicit eye rolls from most of campus.
Most of the blame, however, lies with the regents. There are more than 25,000 students on the Norman campus. The idea that any process could choose four people for the search committee in a week while making the process inclusive is ridiculous. The regents do not even have to listen to the search committee in the end, but starting off the search process with chaotic, unrealistic deadlines does nothing but create animosity to the board and their eventual choice for David Boren’s successor.
Before we knew anything about this search process, we were skeptical. The Board of Regents are appointed by the governor. Gov. Mary Fallin has overseen massive budget cuts to higher education, and we have serious concerns that the decision for the next president will not be in the best interest of students. Now that the process has begun, we are even more concerned. The little power that students have is already being trampled, and we expect it to get worse as the process goes along.