The Eastern Echo Editorial Board has stayed away from staff editorials recently, focusing instead on hard news and objective journalism. With popular blogs like EMUTalk.org and EagleTotem.net, there did not seem to be a need for another opinion column on events happening around EMU. After Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, where the Board voted to extend Eastern’s involvement in the EAA, we at The Echo could stay silent no longer.
Most of us identify ourselves with EMU. We may not fill The Factory every Saturday in the fall, or even be able to name a single player on the football team for that matter, but that is of no consequence. Students do not come to EMU because of athletics, but rather for its cost and reputation. A reputation built on 160 years of teaching excellence, 160 years of tradition. A tradition of producing graduates who are the backbone of the state of Michigan.
Maybe a very few of us will have the high-paying, powerful careers the Regents have achieved, but most of us will be the neighbors that hold communities together. We will be your child's second-grade teacher, the nurse in the emergency room working 12-hour shifts, or the small-business owner putting people in the community to work. And this is where the disconnect between EMU’s Board of Regents and EMU itself begins.
When the top of your resume boasts that you are CEO of one America’s top energy producers, when a Google search of your name turns up pictures of you dining with President Barack Obama, and when your annual income has been equivalent to Halle Library's $7 million annual operating budget, you may not remember why it matters that a degree from Eastern Michigan University is at the top of our resumes. You may not remember why that degree and the reputation behind it matters so much to us.
We do not begrudge anyone on the Board their successes, in fact we wish them more. However, we urge each of them to understand that this is not their university, no matter what anyone in Lansing says. This university belongs to the working mother taking online courses, to the Honors College Presidential Scholarship winner with dreams of Harvard Law, to the faculty member whose office door is always open longer than the posted hours outside of it, to the alumnus who donated $100 on #GivingTuesday and most importantly it belongs to the McNair Scholar who happens to be a Detroit Public School graduate working to become the first person in their family to graduate from college.
The Board's decision to keep us affiliated with the EAA hurts us all. The failure of the EAA to educate the most vulnerable of Michigan’s population and the decision to grant it another year of life support damns even more students to a life of poverty because of the lack of education the EAA provides.
We ask the Board to begin the healing process. Vote to withdraw from the EAA when you next meet on March 17, 2015. Let them know 2015-16 is their last year. Period. They had their opportunity and it is time to move on.
Prove you are TRUEMU, not TRUEAA.