Administrative actions with little communication, drives Allegheny into a new age of precariousness

Shane Ostrom, Junior Opinion Editor

As we are all aware, Allegheny has been undergoing major changes. Buildings are being restored, offices are moving, retirement incentives are driving away tenured professors, President James Mullen is retiring after this academic year—and the list goes on—leading Allegheny into a state of uncertainty.

Over the summer, students conducting research, working as tour guides or training to be resident advisors on Allegheny’s campus were all moved into Walker Hall. Due to some extenuating circumstances, I had missed room draw during the semester prior, and I had not received my fall housing assignment days before we were supposed to move out of Walker. This naturally had financial implications, as I did not know how much my housing would end up being or even if I would be eligible for the mini meal plan as I had budgeted for.

I finally received my room assignment following four emails I sent over two months that were unanswered and more than one brief meeting that ended with “try emailing Residence Life.”

A friend of mine who took a leave of absence for mental health reasons last semester was similarly informed that he, a rising senior, would be assigned a standard double in Walker with a second-semester student he had never met.

Housing assignments are much tighter than they were in recent years on account of slowly ridding the possibilities of off-campus housing, and this year, shutting down the entire Crawford Hall. Little information has been released as to why, but every returning student that has been in Crawford knows that it is older, smellier and dingier than the other housing options, so perhaps a renovation is in order.

After all, the college also spent the summer renovating the Post Office and beginning to move offices out of Reis Hall and Bentley Hall. I have noticed a general dissonance between students and administration has loomed overhead, though just recently, a formal announcement as to where offices have moved to was sent to students’ emails.

While administration settles into new locations, several buildings undergo complete renovations, some funded by donors. Over the summer, mini fridges and microwaves have been installed in every standard dorm room as well, raising questions about the financial health of the school.

Allegheny has offered incentives for tenured professors to retire early, possibly to fill their roles with less experienced professors that would not have the same benefits as their tenured predecessors.

Running a college is a balancing act, and is much more complicated than administration gets credit for, but removing some of the greatest professors Allegheny has ever seen for the sake of restoring buildings and cutting corners is questionable at best.

In the same year that these incentives were being offered, several prominent administrators made a six-digit salary. In Mullen’s case, he made 435,598 dollars in 2017, according to tax documents, which is equivalent to approximately seven professors with an average paygrade. Mullen is retiring after the 2018-19 academic year, and the Presidential Search Committee has not yet made candidates public.

All these changes and mysteries have been frustrating, especially to first-year students who might not be informed about the pseudo-political decisions administration has made.

It is helpful to keep in mind, however, that everyone is just as confused as you, including several professors I have spoke to that are still here at Allegheny whom know little more than the students in regards to administrative changes. One of the best things I have done with my time here is befriend my professors, who have been immensely supportive through the good times and bad, providing support and open doors, and in a few cases, even led to a few odd jobs here and there.

Keep your allies close, know who they are, and take comfort in the company you share through these precarious times at Allegheny.