President Davies addresses Honors Program situtation

Hayley leads a chant as the group makes their way past Warriner Hall, April 16, in Warriner Mall. While Hayley essentially planned and organized the entire protest, her fellow leader, Gwen Hackett, led many of the chants during the actual event.

President Bob Davies said Central Michigan University's Board of Trustees had a "brief discussion" about change within the Honors Program. 

"We continue to think of the Honors Program as an outstanding example of academic rigor, relevance and excellence," Davies said. "We also understand that the Honors Programs is a very, very tight-knit community. This is a discussion about how several changes need to be processed and communicated."

On April 16 students protested the alleged "unjust" removal of Associate Director of the Honors Program Judy Idema. The protest came after messages were sent to people within the honors program by Taylor Idema, an honor student, who believes her mother was fired unjustly. 

"We take these comments from the students very seriously," Davies said. "We know there's a very high level of feeling. I've asked the Provost and her team to develop some communication protocols to get some answers out."

The university still has not confirmed whether Idema was removed from her position. However, the program has updated its contact page to show Maureen Harke as the new associate director.

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

After the protest, students in the Honors Program created a petition titled "Demand Accountability and Transparency in the Central Michigan Honors Program."

"We feel the reorganization initiatives undertaken by the new honors director have been conducted in such a way that is harmful to students, alumni and the program," the petition states. "In reorganization, Judy Idema's position was eliminated from the Honors Program. This was done with absolutely no communication to the students regarding the actions that had been taken or why, and instead was discovered through word of mouth and confirmed by her removal from related websites and groups."

The petition was written by current and former honors students to express their "dissatisfaction with the recent and ongoing injustices that have been perpetrated by the Honors Director." The group is demanding the university takes a more transparent approach to the leadership of the Honors Program.

The petition contains a list of demands and grievances the students have and want the administration to address.

During the Board of Trustee's Academic Affairs committee meeting April 21, outgoing Student Government Association Vice President Brandon Mcdonald, who is a member of the Honors Program and Council, spoke regarding the situation.

"I want to express my concerns as well as the concerns of the vast majority of the students that are in this program," Mcdonald said. "Considering all these recent events during this past academic year surrounding changes and actions to the program, we feel devalued and unsupported."

Mcdonald said he is not blaming Barco, because he doesn't feel the blame can be put on one person.

"Many of us have come to this program because we were inspired by the pillars of scholarship diversity, integrity and citizenship," Mcdonald said. "Instead, we experienced a year of this program where many are getting lost and misled, without any real guidance or support. I fear for the longevity of our beloved program."

Throughout his statement, Mcdonald said the students aren't the only ones who feel the situation is being handled poorly.

"We do see many things happening from procedural issues, failed leadership and just blatant disregard for some of our students. I wanted to bring this to your attention," Mcdonald said. "I'm asking for help. Students feel like we don't have confidence this is being remedied sufficiently and to the benefit of all of our students."