January 30, 2007

President Zimmer, don't dig your own grave

The past few months probably haven’t been President Zimmer’s easiest. Since his idea to switch to the Common Application has gone over like a lead balloon—even though the Maroon supported him there—he has put off STAND in every way possible, and his big ideas for reform have been kept as well hidden as Iraq’s WMDs.

The problem, though, is not with Zimmer’s plans. It is with his articulation (or lack thereof) of those plans. The proposed change to accept the Common Application, for example, was met with widespread contempt less because it’s a bad idea, but more because Zimmer refuses to sell it to the student body or even explain what the change really is. Initial plans for this significant modification were kept pretty quiet, and now that it has come out, Zimmer has hardly discussed it. It seems most students are under the mistaken impression that it will lead to the omission of the heart and soul of applying to the U of C: the Uncommon essays.

Zimmer’s poor communication with regard to the application change is just symptomatic of a larger problem: He has appeared aloof and remote to the student body from day one. He would be smart to follow the example of President Randel, who was known to take in a movie at Doc or show up out of the blue at a house meeting. That isn’t to say that Zimmer should emulate his predecessor—on the contrary, he should be his own man—but that he should consider the reasons that Randel succeeded.

This is particularly important given Zimmer’s ambitions. In one of his few public appearances, he alluded to an interest in reforming many of the beloved aspects of the U of C. If he intends to see these ideas to fruition, it would be wise if he began telling people about them, as opposed to passing them down from on high. A few brown bag lunches might be a good place to start.

President Zimmer, if you’re reading this (and you should be), the honeymoon period is over. It’s time to talk to the students who pay your salary. If you don’t know where to start, we’re always available.