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Newswire Staff Editorial

Despite history, time for Smith and Simons to go

On January 17, 2012

Dean of Students Luther Smith and Associate Provost for Student Life and Leadership  Kathleen Simons have caused quite a stir in the past few months. To begin, they caused uproar among students when they nearly  cancelled the longstanding tradition of camping out for Crosstown Shootout tickets. However, this uproar was quickly overshadowed by controversy surrounding the Crosstown Shootout brawl, particularly the relentless e-mails and the now notorious student reflection sessions. Yet, last week's reflection sessions seem trivial compared to Xavier's newest scandal of which Smith is a primary figure: a federal probe into Xavier University regarding an alleged administrative misconduct surrounding an alleged rape case in late 2008. With all the recent drama at XU, we're surprised we haven't made it on Jerry Springer.

However, we must give credit where credit is due. Despite the poor manner in which the Office of Student Life and Leadership (SLL) has handled these recent crises, we must acknowledge the weight of each situation and the fact  that, admittedly, they would be difficult circumstances for anyone to resolve. For instance, alleged rape cases  demand thoughtful and careful listening as well as investigation. If any small mistake is made, a victim could never recover from an already traumatic experience. On the other hand, if handled with too heavy a hand, an accused could see a life derailed due to something that never even occurred. Similarly, the Crosstown Campout and  Shootout posed another challenge for the SLL office, forcing administrators to choose between the tradition of the Crosstown Campout or the academic struggles that camping out in 20-degree weather might place on students  during finals week. Later, SLL continued to struggle with the choice between the traditions of the University or its  reputation as they dealt with the aftermath of the Crosstown brawl. The events that followed displayed how ill-equipped the office was to handle matters of student life in a way that both pleased and appeased the students.

Yet Smith and Simons are not to be discredited for their services to the University. Since arriving at Xavier in 1992, Smith has greatly contributed to making commuters more welcome on campus, including assisting with parking for commuters and creating the Neighborhood Advisory Board in 2008 to mediate Norwood and Xavier student relations. Simons has become known for her "MAT," or "Meet and Talk," sessions to hear from students since joining the Xavier community in 2007. She has also simplified student group funding in creating the Co-Curricular Funding Board in 2008 and assisted Smith in refining SGA election code to better eliminate fraud and simplify appeals.

However, if our next online poll for the Newswire asked how many students knew who Luther Smith and Kathleen Simons were before Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer, we'd more than likely be hard-pressed to get to 50 percent. So our problem does not lie in frostbite, fighting or federal probes, but the fact that the SLL office has essentially no presence on campus, and thus cannot possibly be serving the needs of the students accurately. Few even know of  Smith or Simons, let  alone hold opinions about their recent personnel changes. Doesn't that simple fact suggest a disconnect between the administration  and the students? Yeah, we get it; the Dean of Students handles discipline (apparently fraudulently) and shouldn't be the students' best friend. But for an office with the word "student" in its title, recent actions have us speculating that the SLL office is more concerned with preserving the reputation of the  University than it is in serving the desires of the students. There ought to be some sort of connection or at least presence on campus from the Dean of Students and Associate Provost for Student Life and Leadership, and currently, that presence appears to be strained at best. With the debacle that was the Crosstown Shootout and the federal probe, we at the Newswire think that it is time for Xavier to part ways with both Smith and Simons. We  appreciate all that they have done for us in their tenures here, and we wish them the best, but it appears that it's been a while since the SLL office  has truly had every student's best  interest as its guiding light. So, with all due respect, this just isn't working for us anymore. But we still want to be friends.

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