Confidential email account allows students to comment on TMU

Kaitlyn Nickerson, Sports Editor

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Dr. John Stead, TMU Provost, sent out an email to the student body about the upcoming Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) visit. Dr. Stead extended the same invitation to students in the previous “Confidential email account notification” message, which he sent on Feb. 26, 2018 before WASC’s visit to TMU this past March.

The message from Stead provided students with an email through which they can send confidential messages to the WASC accreditation visit committee.

“Students are encouraged to comment on issues of academic rigor and consistency, availability of student support services, accuracy of information provided by the institution, and other matters related to the quality of the educational experience,” Stead said in the email.

The confidential email address is an option for those students who are unable to attend meetings on campus and is particularly meant for those students enrolled in online courses who live off campus, according to the email sent by Stead.

“The email account is created by a WSCUC staff member and only authorized WSCUC staff and team members have access to it,” Stead said. “The emails are not viewed by any representative of the institution.”

According to WASC’s Visit Process Guide, creating a confidential email account is standard practice for all accreditation related visits, including special visits, which is the kind of visit TMU will be receiving Nov. 1-2.

“The email account gives those who cannot or do not wish to attend one of the open meetings an opportunity to communicate with the team,” the Visit Process Guide states. “This is a particularly important strategy for institutions with distributed online students who cannot come to the campus. The Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) is responsible for distributing this notice to the entire campus community”

The ALO for TMU is the Provost, Dr. John Stead.

In addition to the email, there will also be a meeting with the team that students can attend.

“The WASC Visiting Team will be on our campus on Nov 1 & 2,” Sharon Staats said in a recent email to the student body. “You are invited to attend a meeting with them on Fri., Nov 2 @ 9:15 am in Rutherford Board Room.”

The administration is in the process of providing the students with a procedure for chapel exemption for those who wish to attend the meeting.

For students, this email and the meeting can be an opportunity to speak up about the things that are important to them.

“The whole attitude for the whole WASC thing has been so negative, and I feel like we haven’t been given enough information. There hasn’t been enough communication between the board and the school about what’s going on so, we feel left out. But that’s not the issue right now,” Liz Holland, a junior English major, said. “The issue is that we love the school, and we want to be here, and we want to show our love and our support for the school, ultimately.”

The confidential email account plays a significant part in the committee’s evaluation process. WASC’s Spring 2018 report said that the emails provided the committee with information about concerning personnel decisions made by TMU. However, the email is not designed merely for criticisms.

“I honestly didn’t put two and two together that the email could be used to say good things about the school,” Holland said. “If I would have thought about that I definitely would have sent an email and said good stuff about the school because I love it here, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The email account is open from now through WASC’s visit on Nov. 2. So, it is not too late to send in an email.

“The email account is created for this visit only and will be closed once the WSCUC team leaves the campus. Only comments made before or during the visit will be considered as part of the review process,” Stead said.

To write to the WSCUC team, please address your email to: [email protected].