“I have a right to know.”
It is a common phrase we have probably all heard before. In many situations, it is fair to demand information from others and question when it’s withheld. Look at Watergate, the Edward Snowden case and the first week of Trump’s presidency. The search and demand for the truth is an essential part of journalism and democracy, but apparently, something that isn’t similarly seen as a virtue by our university.
Timothy Ecklund, Ph.D., left his position as the dean of students, according to an email sent out by Vice President for Student Affairs Peter M. Baigent. According to the email, Ecklund will be “leaving Stony Brook to pursue other opportunities,” but no explanation of what that means or what those opportunities entail was provided.
The university is currently looking for a replacement for the position, and called on the former dean of students, Jerrold L. Stein, to return to the university and act as interim dean of students until a replacement is found.
Sound familiar? It should. In 2014, Raúl M. Sánchez was the senior director for Title IX Risk Management for less than a year before he was replaced by Marjolie Leonard, the interim director of the former Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action, now the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity. No explanation was provided for Sánchez’s departure.
In 2013, Stony Brook Athletic Director Jim Fiore left Stony Brook under the same swift and shady terms. Fiore’s departure was announced with no explanation; meanwhile, Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Woodruff was plugged in as the interim athletic director while the university searched for a replacement. When The Statesman reached out for a comment about the departure, Media Relations replied that “it is university policy not to comment on personal matters.”
University policy should not be used as means to camouflage such important information. It is the right of the student body to understand why Ecklund, the dean of students, left. Ecklund’s position was no minor role at the university. The dean of students advocates for students’ needs, works on co-curricular programs and advises the provost and president of the university. Also, Ecklund earned upward of $175,000 in his position in 2015 alone, according to See Through NY. Stony Brook’s silence on the dean’s departure is another example of the university putting its reputation first before the transparency of information with its students.
Stony Brook should come forward and provide a better explanation for the dean’s departure. The truth deserves to be told, and we have a right to know.