Commentary by Kristina Holton, Mathematics Faculty
Perception is reality. We base our opinions, beliefs and judgments on how we see a situation unfold and this view is parameterized by the lens through which we choose to view.
We have a choice in this subjectivity. Namely we can choose to see the actions of others as earnest and sincere or we can choose them to be malicious and spiteful. Either way, it is important to understand that we have the choice.
In response to recollections, presented by Jim Salt, of how the proceedings of the board meeting went, I’d like to offer the following: I believe that what Jim explained is how he, and perhaps others who attended the meeting, perceived the events. Thus, it is their reality. But I too attended the board meeting and I observed things differently. As such, I want to express my reality.
I saw a room full of people who carry great concern about the students of Lane Community College. I heard testimony from students, faculty and community members regarding their advocacy for the importance of all programs at Lane, including the Auto Body & Paint and Electronics Technology programs.
I witnessed many expressions of concern and sorrow from the audience, administration and board as people used great courage to speak in front of a crowded room, which likely included many unknown faces and opened their hearts and souls.
I saw distress on the faces and in the body language of the board and administration as they continued their discussion regarding the decision at hand. The decision to cut a program is one that I imagine is tremendously painful to make because the ramifications are that people get hurt.
I have great empathy for the faculty and students in these programs because I once lost my job due to budget reductions. It hurt — there is no better way to explain it.
Never once did I perceive that anyone was taking delight in the proceedings at hand, or that anyone involved was uncaring. Board members even strongly voiced their angst and torment about the situation. What I did perceive is that given the current projected budget deficit and the proposals that were presented, the board had to make a difficult decision.
I choose to believe that the administration and board of Lane Community College have the best interests of Lane students in mind. I have to, or else I wouldn’t want to come to work every day to assist these students as they expand their knowledge base and strive towards meeting their future goals. What would be the point, if truly student interests would be better served elsewhere?
I choose to believe that collectively we can find creative solutions for reducing the deficit as well as lobby the state for support that would allow higher education to not only function adequately, but to thrive. These processes will undoubtedly take time, energy and concerted effort by many but I encourage everyone to participate and contribute in whatever capacity they can.
Some label me as naive while others criticize my lesser experience, yet I will continue choosing to see things this way because I believe it’s the right thing to do. No one knows with 100 percent certainty whether removing programs will result in a savings or loss.
No one knows whether new and creative ideas will be a benefit or detriment to Lane’s future. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to analyze the lens through which you choose to view the world — acknowledge your own perception and seek to understand the perception of others.