Williams Responds: TU President Answers Campus Concerns Surrounding Recently Announced Paperless Goals

by Jake Hawkins

“Let me be clear: I don’t feel on the defensive about this. This is the right thing.”

“If people are scoffing at it, I would like them to scoff at it with me....” -President Owen Williams

These words were spoken by President Owen Williams concerning the goal he has set for the University to be paperless by the end of the academic year.
Williams said this while speaking with The Rambler. The meeting, the second time Williams has sat down with The Rambler this year, was originally schedule to discuss Williams’ recent appearance on “Kentucky Newsmakers,” a weekend talk show hosted by local CBS affiliate WKYT. However, conversation shifted towards further discussion of the paperless goal.

There has been some confusion around campus as to how the paperless goal can be defined.

In an attempt to “dispel some myths going around about the new paperless challenge,” junior Danny Woolums wrote in a letter to the editor last week, “The truth is that what it means to be ‘paperless’ has yet to be defined.”

“When John F. Kennedy said let’s go to the moon, he didn’t say let’s go close to the moon,” said Williams when asked to further define the paperless goal. “I think as of right now we’re talking about going as close to no paper as we can.”

Some students are taking issue with this stance.

“I think it’s a good goal, but I feel like we shouldn’t be focusing on one single sustainability issue. … We’re just following the footsteps of other colleges who want to be part of the ‘green movement’ instead of taking the initiative and being forward thinkers that actually care about the environment instead of what the U.S. News and World Report ranks us,” said junior Cody Alton, who submitted an article to The Rambler last week satirizing the president’s paperless initiative.

“I’m inviting some discussion,” Williams said, responding to criticism. “I would like the record to read that I’m not an unreasonable person. … I’m trying to do what we’re here to do, which is to advance an intellectual engagement that we all, at least pretend to, value.”

Students, it seems, may not be the only ones taking issue with the paperless initiative. Some students have come forward detailing professor’s attitudes towards the goal.

As senior Elizabeth Utley said in her letter to the editor on Sept. 23, “The professors scoffed at the ‘paperless’ scheme and all explicitly stated that we WOULD have to print out all of the articles assigned and come to class with them.”

Junior Kaitlyn Foree commented on professors’ impact on printing.

“I feel like (professors) are doing a good job as far as syllabi and assignment descriptions go, but as far as reading assignments and needing sources for papers I feel like I have to use just as much paper as before,” she said.

The Rambler asked Williams about the idea of faculty scoffing at his initiative.

“I’m not in a position to be able to comment on that,” he said. “If people are scoffing at it, I would like them to scoff at it with me … in a way that’s public, in a way that advances the discourse on sustainability.”

“Everybody wants change,” said Williams, “until the change affects them. … They don’t want to make the sacrifices that will allow that to happen.”


One Response to Williams Responds: TU President Answers Campus Concerns Surrounding Recently Announced Paperless Goals

  1. Nemo Discipulus says:

    As one of the people on campus that ‘at least pretends to value intellectual engagement’ I’d like suggest that we promote that openness by having some kind of forum to discuss the controversial paperless policy. Though the decision seems to have been made finally already it might be a good time to answer questions, voice concerns, and take questions. Additionally, it’d be nice to have another opportunity to actually meet our new president or see his face somewhere besides a print publication. I know President Williams has made a great effort to talk with faculty members and RAs and perhaps certain other groups in our community. No doubt our president is very busy in his new position and with the start of the new year but it couldn’t hurt to have more direct interaction and communication with the student body in general. Then perhaps people would be less resistant to and suspicious of recent changes.

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