Trustees largely ignored student opinion

by the Flor-Ala Staff

As both students and members of the media, The Flor-Ala staff had the opportunity and obligation to closely follow the D-I discussion, which led to the UNA board of trustees’ vote in favor of the transition to D-I.

Though the trustees and university ensured us that they had taken into account the fact that both UNA faculty and students voted against the move, we cannot help but feel that the voice of the collective UNA community was largely ignored in the decision-making process.

Perhaps this feeling originates in the lack of information given to the UNA community by the trustees and university. Had UNA initiated a truly educational campaign before the vote, instead of relying in large part on the media and word of mouth, many of the gross popular misconceptions about the move to D-I might have been avoided.

The Flor-Ala editorial board wishes that, along with an educational campaign, UNA had taken more initiative in contacting local groups and residents, who will also be affected by the move to D-I, and asking for their opinions and support.

After the unfavorable vote by faculty and students, the simple promise that our voice would be heard was not enough to satisfy our desire for the process to be at least somewhat democratic. A collective vote bares much more weight than a promise, which allows no opportunity to empirically prove whether or not our vote was truly a factor in the final decision.

Though our voices seemed to have no effect on the final decision, and the initial campaign for the move to D-I made it painfully clear that the decision had already been made, The Flor-Ala editorial board is not absolutely against the move. As UNA continues to grow, it becomes increasingly clear that D-I is in the university’s future. The advantages of a successful move to D-I are abundantly clear for both students and the entire Shoals community, but many obstacles potentially stand in the way of a successful move at this time.

The Flor-Ala editorial board is concerned for the future UNA students and current underclassmen who will ultimately pay for this move. The difficult economic times along with the value of an undergraduate degree from UNA, which will change for better or worse with the transition, pose significant potential problems for the future of UNA and its students.

The Flor-Ala editorial board asks UNA officials to be transparent and open with the public throughout the entire transition. This includes allowing the public into meetings and taking in regular feedback from students, faculty and the community. Though the UNA community was snubbed at the outset by haste and personal agendas, the university can still make the community a true part of the process.

The opinions expressed are the collective ideas of The Flor-Ala editorial board.