Monday, February 17, 2014

Chancellor's E-mails: Clarity or Controversy? by Bryan Hall

UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow has a great reputation on campus, but his emails can occasionally create controversy. 

The most recent message of note alerted students that despite frigid weather (temperatures dropped below -20 F with wind chill), students are required to show up for class, but they should use good judgment when deciding whether to attend.

For some recipients, the email was a source of more confusion than clarification. An attendance policy in which students are required to attend class or notify the professor in case of absence is standard for a university, so why was the e-mail necessary?

“I was already anticipating a day off after hearing (about) other schools closing for low temperatures,” says UW-L Junior Nate Ziegeweid, “so getting an email addressing the weather like this didn’t clear up anything for me.”

Students reacting to this message may also remember the controversy stemming from the cross shaped 9-11 memorial set up on campus last fall. Gow touched on the issue with a carefully worded email, cautiously addressing complaints from a few students, avoiding either side of the issue while explaining the regulations that applied to the memorial.

Gow’s message prompted a debate over the religious nature of the memorial, with students and alumni weighing in on both sides of the issue, leading some to question whether it would have been so heavily contested had he decided not to click “send” on the e-mail.

Others, however, appreciate hearing their chancellor weigh in on the issues: “It’s good to hear that he is invested in these school events,” argues UW-L Junior Patrick Otto, “it’s his decision at the end of the day, but it’s nice to see that he respects us enough to explain his stance.”