Give the students an answer (Staff Editorial)

Ah! Northern Kentucky University: The market place of ideas.

Disclaimer: However, if your ideas don’t align with the members of the university administration you could be removed from your position.

Such is the case with the recent fi rings of Blanche Pringle-Smith and Michael Griffin, coordinators in the Office of African American Student Affairs (AASA). In documents obtained by The Northerner, Griffin and Pringle-Smith were fired for not getting along with new leadership, which is not a legitimate reason to fire somebody. However, the university administration remains silent, by not offering any real answer as to what happened, which gives the impression that they really did fire Griffin and Pringle-Smith for disagreeing.

It seems the tougher a problem gets, the more the Northern Kentucky University administration shells-up. The recent firings of Pringle-Smith and Griffin are just two examples of how, when times get tough, and students and faculty ask questions, the NKU administration close their doors and pull the phone cord out of the wall.

In this case these two firings are “personnel matters.” But, the outrage of students should be enough to at least garner an answer. An attempt to be transparent took place Feb. 17, when Zeb Davenport, vice president of Student Affairs, took questions from students at an open-forum. Davenport quickly let the students know that the forum wasn’t going to be about Pringle-Smith or Griffin. The students in attendance thought differently.

They had the two AASA coordinators on their mind and shelled Davenport with questions. The typical response was given — it’s a personnel matter and it can’t be talked about. He danced around the tough questions, often ignoring the students who asked the tough questions all together.

Miya Simpson, the new director of AASA, was also present. She, along with Davenport, just wanted to talk about where the office will be heading now — which is important, but a bigger problem was present — that two of its prominent and loved leaders were missing.

Simpson also wouldn’t respond to The Northerner to discuss the issue, despite repeated attempts to contact her. In documents obtained by The Northerner, Griffin and Pringle-Smith were fired for not getting along with new leadership, which means they weren’t getting along with Simpson. She had the opportunity to rebut this, but didn’t do so.

This situation could turn out a lot better if Davenport, Simpson or Dean of Students Jeff Waple were to open up the doors and offer real answers as to what is going on. If the administration wants to make it look like they didn’t fire Griffi n or Pringle-Smith for dissenting views they need to open themselves up. Until then, the firings of Pringle-Smith and Griffin look as though the administration fired two people simply because they served up different opinions. So much for the market place of ideas.