We The People…
In 1791, the framers of the United States Consitution went back and “re-framed” the document that still binds our nation today. In that edit, they added 10 amendments to what had already been declared, establishing more concrete protections than those afforded with the simple “life, liberty, and the pursuit” of happiness the Declaration of Independence had laid out 15 years earlier. The first of those Amendments read then, and still reads today, 223 years later, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Clearly the Chatham University is not the United States government. The Chatham administration and Boards are not elected in the same way that our personal representatives in Congress are. Yet, there is, in both situations, an implied trust that exists (or at least it should). We, as alumnae, should feel that the Boards have the University’s, and all of its parts’, best interests in mind, and that those Boards should be willing to hear what its citizens (student and alumnae) have to say when matters related to those interests arise. But time and time again, since the announcement was made that a resolution would be put before the Board of Trustees on May 1st, we have felt as if we were merely being paid lipservice, as if our right to “petition the government” as it were, was more of a show than any true attempt by the administration and the Board of Trustees to actually hear what was being said.
They said they’re listening, but are they?
The Chatham administration claims that they have been studying the need to go co-ed since February 2013, but not until February 2014 with just 60 days before a vote did they let anyone else in on the conversation. Alumnae were given no chance to understand the issues facing the college or contribute to real, working solutions. Students were not told that the college they had bought into (philosophically and financially) would be changed underneath them. Faculty and staff, the backbone of any educational institution, were just as in the dark. And with all of that darkness, 60 days of “transparency” was supposed to be enough.
Sixty days is not enough time for true, honest discussion about the needs of the university, and the women’s college in particular. Eighteen blog posts (as much as we like blog posts) are not enough to convey the year’s worth of research and information that is said to exist. And three in-person appearances by Dr. Barazzone at town halls, with only one outside of Pittsburgh, is not enough to engage the alumnae from across the country. We deserve to have our voices heard, and when the administration fails to provide us with the opportunity to do so, we will find other ways.
We will organize on Facebook, Twitter, and the savechatham.com website. We will write letters to the editors and reach out to any media outlet that will hear us. We will blog. And…we will send postcards.
The postcard pictured up top is just one of hundreds that will be winding its way to the mailboxes of Chatham University Board of Trustee members in the coming days and weeks. The administration has proven that it is not really interested in our thoughts, but that doesn’t mean we will give them an excuse to say that they weren’t aware of our fervent desire to save Chatham. Not just the name, but everything Chatham stands for.