Despite controversy, Hope will persevere

The recent controversy surrounding the provost’s abrupt resignation and reports of disagreements between our president and Board of Trustees has undoubtedly caused many students to feel uneasy. It is an understandable reaction when an institution that many of us have come to love is subject to so much controversy and uncertainty.

Though we have little information regarding the recent upheaval, rumors have run rampant around campus. The Anchor staff has worked incredibly hard in the last week to sort out fact from fiction and our work thus far can be seen in this issue.

Despite our efforts, it is abundantly clear that there is still not enough information to accurately determine what the source of the dispute between the Board of Trustees and the president is, let alone enough information to take a side.

This fact, however, has not stopped some from picking sides. Based on these rumors, some faculty members decided that they needed to side with President Knapp over the Board of Trustees.

I was disappointed to learn that a small minority of faculty at Hope has gone so far as to actively recruit students to join their effort to lobby the trustees to preserve the president’s job.

Apparently for these faculty members, when it comes to institutional politics, the liberal arts ideal of educating students to be independent thinkers who base their opinions in facts and evidence goes out the window. Instead, these professors fed students rumors, preyed on their fears and then urged them to take a side. Personally, I find the actions of such individuals to be the most disappointing part of the whole debacle.

As a campus community, it’s about time we take a deep breath and settle down.

This morning, I spoke to a freshman friend on campus who, like everyone else, had heard many rumors regarding the current situation.

This student was concerned that, if President Knapp were to be dismissed, Hope as an institution in its current form would basically cease to exist. It seems someone had told him that prior to John Knapp’s arrival morale was at an all-time low at Hope.

Thankfully, as a senior whose time at Hope predates Knapp’s hiring, I was able to dispel his concerns. I assured my friend that although some things had changed at Hope during my time here, much more had stayed the same. Knapp certainly did not create the Hope College that we love nor has he ruined it. Whether from a financial, enrollment or academic perspective, the last decade of Hope’s history as a whole has actually been its greatest.

The truth is, Hope can flourish with or without its current president. It is understandable how rumors combined with the Board’s lack of transparency has induced fears that the college as we know it is in great jeopardy.

The most dramatic resolution to the current round of disputes would be the dismissal of President Knapp. However, in the grand scheme of things even such a scenario is unlikely to harm Hope in the long term. Colleges choose to replace their presidents all the time. A 2012 report by the American Council on Education, for instance, notes that the average tenure of a college president is only seven years.

Do not worry too much about the future. No matter who is the president when classes start next fall, I am confident that Hope will endure.

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