Next week, President Richard Linton will take over as the next commander in chief of Kansas State. The capacity of the president demands a lot of important decision-making. It is paramount that President Linton knows the expectations many students have for him.
The pressing issues that require President Linton’s attention are issues regarding campus diversity, inclusivity and equity (DEI). DEI initiatives at K-State have been progressing efficiently, but these initiatives need a harder push. President Linton needs to make it a priority to improve campus inclusivity. These priorities should include meeting with the Intercultural Leadership Council once a semester, not to lecture or present, but to listen to student concerns and questions and answer them with honesty and sincere assurances to the student body.
Additionally, Linton needs to ensure he attends the student senate at least once every semester and SGA Executive Cabinet and Student Senate Executive meetings at least once a semester.
Along with SGA, President Linton must ensure he schedules regular meetings throughout the academic year with the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), LGBT Resource Center, the Leadership Studies Department and the Union Governing Board.
Linton also should make it a priority to attend multiple multicultural and international student events – from celebrations of ethnic festivals to international coffee hours. Linton needs to attend these to connect with students from various walks of life. In addition, Linton should schedule meetings with important campus student organizations such as the Black Student Union, African Students Union, Asian American Student Union, the International Coordinating Council, Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), etc.
President Linton should also meet with the K-State Center for Advocacy, Response, and Education (CARE) office monthly. These meetings should not happen in Anderson Hall but rather in the CARE office, with all faculty members in the CARE office.
President Linton should ensure the directors of important campus departments such as the International Students and Scholar Services (ISSS) have a seat at his cabinet table. Along with that, President Linton needs to ensure the student body president is invited to attend cabinet meetings when discussing important topics about student life.
Linton needs to focus energy on recruiting and retaining students from historically excluded backgrounds. The population of historically underrepresented students, such as students of color, LGBTQ+ students and international students, is declining at K-State. Linton needs to release precise steps he would take to reverse the decline and increase statewide, nationwide and international enrollment at K-State.
Along with all of this, President Linton needs to ensure his cabinet and the entirety of K-State are more progressive and inclusive. This initiative would include everything from ensuring he knows the preferred pronouns of people who report to him to ensuring that if there is an incident of bigotry on campus, he leaves all his other work and provides accurate information about it and the steps he will take to counter such incidents to the student body. If a racist incident happens on campus, he must assure the student body strict actions will be taken against the perpetrators. Should there be a debriefing session after instances of bigotry on campus, Linton needs to attend and answer questions and concerns the student body might have. Being an active and visible leader means he needs to be “active on campus” and “available to answer student queries.”
In addition to all of the above, Linton needs to ensure the campus beautification process involves increasing resources to departments on campus that have historically not received appropriate funding for development. Just because a department does not have a millionaire associated with it does not mean they should receive less funding or lesser opportunities. An educational institute should not be dependent on the money it receives from its richest alumni.
K-State’s 2025 visionary plan will not be achievable and successful if our university is not inclusive, progressive and equitable. President Linton must commit his heart and soul to developing campus student life and increasing the equity of K-State’s resources.
Good leaders do not need to be the smartest person in the room, but are aware of how much they don’t know, and must relinquish their comfort zone. Great leaders have empathy, humility and kindness. Being satisfied with the status quo won’t bring about growth or innovation. Leaders must be accountable — they shouldn’t try to pass the buck for failures. Leaders need courage. Courage is having the strength of conviction to do the right thing when it would just be easier to do things right.
President Linton needs to ensure he possesses and implements these qualities of being a leader at K-State. Linton will be the face of K-State. With great powers comes great responsibility. It is now up to President Linton to follow through with his promises, commitments and responsibilities to K-State and all Wildcats.
Vedant Deepak Kulkarni is a Collegian contributor, a Collegian Media Group board member and a senior in management information systems and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to email@example.com.