Opinion: An open letter to B. Jo

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Steve Kline

Dear Dr. B. Joseph White, First off, I’d like to welcome you to the University. I just read the interview with you in Sunday’s Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and, frankly, I like the cut of your jib. You said some reassuring things and for that I give you kudos.

As the new president of the University, I’m sure you’ve got people pulling at your sleeves in every direction, giving advice and trying to exploit your newness to the Champaign-Urbana community. If not, let me be the first. Here’s some helpful advice about the University from someone who has long overstayed his welcome.

You can relax behind the wheel a little more now that you’re out of Michigan. I hate to stereotype an entire state, but let’s face it: Michigan drivers are completely insane.

While fighting to bring back our lost funds (and yes, this is a plea disguised as advice), remember us, the students. You see, tuition seems to rise by the hour around here. More people drop out because of soul-crushing debt than because of low GPAs. When helping with the budget, keep the baggy-eyed masses in the forefront of your mind.

If others disagree with you on this, remind them that lower tuition makes good business sense. You don’t want indebted alumni – you want alumni with loads of spare booty to donate (I share my definition of “booty” with pirates. I don’t mean it in the gangsta-rap vein.).

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If “keep the students in mind” is second nature to you – then kudos once again. We’re not used to this. I haven’t met a single student who feels as if he or she is a priority in the eyes of those who run the school. As an undergrad, I feel as if I have a better chance of getting an audience with the United Nations than the Board of Trustees. We have a student trustee, true, but he was solely elected on the Chief issue. However, we really don’t know what the trustees do. They go into a room – let’s say, a smoke-filled room – and walk out saying we need to give them more money. Occasionally, they’ll ask us about a resolution and completely ignore what we said. Students who pay attention to this process resent the outcome.

In fact – and I’m sorry if I’m wrong here – there are two small reasons why students don’t tackle the problem of administrative accountability head-on. One, we’re not here too long. Today’s little kids will see the benefits of our work, not us. I mean, who likes kids? After all, if it weren’t for kids, all the windows in cars would roll all the way down.

The second is that we’re split on the whole Chief Illiniwek thing. We fight each other instead of using our power in numbers. No, I didn’t rip that off from the movie PCU – it’s just coincidence.

Be forewarned about the Chief. No matter what you do, a large group of people will only look at your stance on this issue. Think of it this way: Get into the mindset of Alan Keyes. Careful, now; anyone who truly gets into Keyes’ mindset can only go out in public with a professional caretaker.

You had your own talk show. You were potentially the presidential candidate (ha!) in 2000. You just campaigned for U.S. Senate with the apparent endorsement of Jesus Christ. What does John Q. Public say to you on the street? “Man! I can’t believe Michael Moore got you to jump in a mosh pit!”

Illiniwek will be your mosh pit. That’s all you’ll hear about from the guy on the street. Even if you allocate a billion dollars to the University and hire researchers who cure cancer, people will keep approaching you with Chief opinions. It comes with the territory.

That’s all I’ve got for you, Dr. White. Welcome to the community. Agree or disagree with my advice, but remember: Stay off Green Street on a Friday night. It’s frightening.

Steve Kline is a senior in LAS. His column normally runs alternate Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].