It’s time to abolish the post of university president

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The opinions expressed in the opinion columns are those of the author.

“I don’t think we have a big problem here in Greek life” President Darryll Pines, 2021.

It’s one of President Pines’ most memorable quotes in recent memory, downplaying the seriousness of the problem of sexual assault at the University of Maryland and in Greek life in an interview with The Diamondback. This is one of the many scandals that have marred the start of the new presidency. In a hearing in the University Senate, President Pines said that opposition to the deforestation of the Guilford Woods “is just purely emotional for many people, and not necessarily completely based on logic and science” .

The backlash that has surfaced against Pines at events such as the annual Preventing Sexual Assault Slut March and the Save the Woods protest on McKeldin Mall is well deserved. But it highlights a much bigger problem: the massive divide between the student body and the faculty and their supposed representatives.

After all, “president” may be a misnomer for someone appointed by a 21-member board of regents – members who, by the way, are appointed by the state government of Maryland. not students or teachers. Of the 21 members, two are students, which speaks volumes about the representation of students at the highest level within Maryland’s university system.

The Electoral College may be broken in terms of representation, but it has nothing to do with the ineffectiveness of this process.

The solution? Get rid of them. Abolish the presidency.

Not to hit the regents or the Pines in particular, but college presidents have long been out of touch with the basic mechanics of universities. For example, the former president of this university, Wallace Loh, has resigned following the controversy surrounding the death of footballer Jordan McNair.

Four months after McNair’s death, the board expressed their continued support for coach DJ Durkin, the coach who presided over McNair’s death, on Loh’s recommendation. It was an incredibly unpopular decision representative of the incredibly unpopular structure of leadership at this university.

But this problem doesn’t start or end just with this university it permeates higher education as a whole. For example, Lawrence Summers, one of the former Presidents of Harvard University who served from 2001 to 2006, has much praise under his belt: Chief Economist of the World Bank, Secretary of the Treasury to former President Bill Clinton, director of the National Economic Council for former President Barack Obama, and more. All of these senior positions have two things in common: they are incredibly powerful and they are unelected positions.

This latter element comes through when Summers decided to make comments that imply that men outperform women in high school STEM scores due to genetic differences, stating that “Behavioral genetics research shows that the things people previously attributed to socialization weren’t due to socialization after all. “

It is clear that placing people in unelected positions of power allows for less than tasty actions that might not otherwise happen if elected to their office.

Some would say that presidents are not there to represent us (which doesn’t really make them a president), but rather to maintain order and be in charge of professors and students. To this I ask: who holds them responsible? Who among us can hold the most powerful people on campus accountable for their actions? Without an effective means of consequence, the university presidency functions much more like a university monarchy.

The highest echelons of our university systems are flawed and deserve to be analyzed as we go through them. Summers, Loh, and Pines are just symptoms of a bigger problem with the organization of power on college campuses, leading figures in a relatively outdated position.

Instead of a president or monarch, universities should instead adopt a council of students and faculty to make major decisions that affect them in higher education across the world, and not just advisory committees that are easily swept away by the breeze. It’s time to restructure our campuses and get the representation we have more than paid for.

Rohin Mishra is a first year student in public administration and economics. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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