Students demand an investigation into alleged removal of Honors administrator


Students march towards Warriner Hall calling for answers, April 16 near Powers Hall.

A group of 15 Central Michigan University students chanted and hoisted signs as they walked from Powers Hall to Warriner Hall this afternoon protesting the alleged "unjust" removal of the Associate Director of the Honors Program Judy Idema.

The protest, held April 16, came after messages were sent to people within the honors program by Taylor Idema, an honor student, who believes her mother was fired unjustly. 

Macomb graduate student and Coordinator of Honors Student Recruitment Nick Malendowski said the Honors Council was not informed of Idema's removal.

Screenshots of an email Provost Mary Schutten sent to all students in the Honors Program

In response to the situation, honors students sent mass emails to President Bob Davies demanding an investigation. The emails garnered a response on April 7 from Provost Mary Schutten, who said the university would look into the situation.

A screenshot of the CMU Honors Program "Contact Us" page on April 16

The university declined to give further comment on the situation or verify whether Idema has been removed from her position.

The program has updated its contact page which shows Maureen Harke as the new Associate Director of the Honors Program.

Following the removal of Idema, an email was sent to students in HON 320 on April 15 informing them that the Director of the Honors Program Nicole Sparling Barco was placed on leave.

Screenshots of a BlackBoard email sent to HON 320 students from faculty member Laura Cochrane

The situation has sparked frustration among honors students who joined the honors program because of Idema and relied heavily on her advice.

Lowell sophomore Gwendolyn Hackett led the March 16 protest. Hackett said the lack of a response from the university to clarify what happened is the issue.

"I feel that is unethical," Hackett said. "(The university) made a major change and they haven't said anything."

Hackett said some students were too scared to participate in the protest.

"Some people didn't want to come out because they were intimidated that they would receive retaliation for it," Hackett said. "In actuality, it's just people here to support a cause, and it's really safe and awesome that we're able to do this."

Some faculty members gathered by the protestors as they stood near Powers Hall. One of them, Cheryl Geisthardt, said she was supportive of students using their voices.