Roark: “I feel like the board has mixed feelings about me”

Student Trustee talks Breuder, Collins and refusing to take sides in COD politics

Kelly Wynne, News Editor

Student Trustee Gloria Roark prides herself on voting for the students and for herself. Roark has been living up to student expectations all semester by refusing to take a side in board feuds, speaking up only in times where she feels her voice needs to be heard. Roark sat down with News Editor Kelly Wynne to talk about the last month at the college and what still needs to change.

Courier: You missed the special board meeting where the vote was held to fire President Breuder due to a scheduling conflict and last minute meeting announcement. How would you have voted if you were there?

Gloria Roark: I would have voted in favor of going ahead with the termination process, definitely. I think that there are so many things surrounding his name that bring us bad publicity, and he has just done so many terrible things in my opinion. I would have voted in favor of it. I just felt like that was right to do. I do think that there is going to be some sort of backfire from his lawyers about the whole issue. If you think about it, that’s a huge thing to take away from someone even if they did bad things. It’s a lot of money to take away from someone.

C: Have you heard anything from his legal council?

GR: No. We had asked him if he wanted to come present to the board, and he said no. We had also asked him if he wanted to issue a formal statement to the board, and he also said no to that. I know some of us are expecting it to happen. I’m just happy [the vote] passed. It’s a sigh of relief.

C: Actually, faculty union President Glenn Hansen had said that word for word in a Courier interview.

GR: Yes! I read that. I always think he has really great things to say. When he said that I thought, “that’s it. That’s exactly it.” He’s so great, him and Richard Jarman. I think they both have the student’s best interests, which is supposed to happen anyways, but I think they’re really awesome. I’m so glad they speak at all of the board meetings.

C: How do you think Breuder being fired will affect the school?

GR: I think we have a lot to look forward to as a school. I do think he will come back in some sort of legal fashion, but I think right now we have such a positive outlook for the college because he’s gone. There were so many negative things that went along with his presidency. I’m so excited to see where we can go from this, and I’m really happy to be done talking about it on the board because it was so extensive, and we all knew that he wasn’t going to come back. Everyone knew everyone’s opinions already so the board vote wasn’t a surprise. I hope that the next president seriously has the students in their best interest. That’s so important. From what I’ve heard and seen, Breuder kind of ran the place like a business and not a college.

C: During the first part of the board meeting, someone in public comments structured a statement with quotes that sounded like they were from Breuder. She then revealed that they were actually statements from Acting Interim President Joseph Collins. It seems that now the spotlight has shifted to him and people are trying to target him. It has been implied that Collins may be a candidate for the presidency. Do you have an opinion on that?

GR: I really like Dr. Collins. I think he’s a really, really genuine person. I’ve also heard negative things, but I haven’t paid much attention to it because in my experience he’s incredible to me. He’s super nice or super influential, and I really like him. When people do say that about him, I don’t see that in him, so I have to go on my opinion of him. My opinion is a good one. I don’t have anything negative to say about him at this point in time.

C: Do you think he is a large potential candidate?

GR: I have heard that he could be. That wouldn’t be shocking to me at all given his position right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to go for that position.

C: What was your overall take on the accreditation report?

GR: They actually quoted me in the report.* I meant every word that I said. I gave notes to the HLC; I didn’t know they were going to quote me on that. I do think we need more unity on the board, and I agree with what they picked out about the board. I think everyone can see that. You can totally tell that we are not unified. I still feel that way. Nothing has changed in my opinion. There’s so much tension sitting up there in between the two sides. It’s so stressful. I feel like I’m always in the middle.

C: You’ve never really chosen a side.

GR: A lot of the time one side votes a particular way, they vote “no” and the other side votes “yes.” I vote the way that I feel. Sometimes I vote “yes” sometimes I vote “no” depending on how I actually feel. I don’t base it off of what other people are going to say. I don’t think “I should vote with this side tonight.” I’m stuck in the middle so much. I feel like [the board] has mixed feelings about me. I feel like they were expecting me to choose a side. I didn’t want to do that. I feel like they shouldn’t expect me to do that. I feel like they were curious about me, like, “what side is she going to be on?” If I had gone up there and gone one way all of the time I would have felt like I was doing a disservice to the student population. My job is to literally sit there and vote the way that I feel students would feel about particular topics.

C: Since the accreditation report was so negative about many aspects of the school, some relating to students like “academic integrity,” how do you think the report will affect students?

GR: Honestly, I don’t know if many students are going to seriously read it. I’m hoping that students who do don’t think more negatively of the college because of it. Really it’s just a problem at the administration level. It’s not with the students. I don’t think the student’s education was ever compromised at the college regardless of what was happening. I don’t know how students are going to take it. They just have to fix things at the administration level, and the college will be back to where it was.

C: What is the board’s action from here on?

GR: Hopefully the tension dies down. I really feel like I’m sitting in the middle of two fights all the time. I hope they take the report and realize they have to do something about it instead of taking it lightly. Now that the Breuder thing has passed I hope people stop fighting about the past, and I hope they stop bringing up the past over and over again. It’s not contributing to the future at all. I’m hoping they do their part. I will do my part. I think it’s more about the past vs. the present at this point, and I’m in the present. I’m in the past, but I don’t bring up old faults all the time like a lot of the new board members do. I hope they learn their lesson, and I hope that HLC doesn’t have to come back and consider our accreditation again because that’s scary. Student’s hear that word and start to freak out. They shouldn’t have to do that just because the board can’t act right.
* Roark’s quote in the accreditation report: “Many times the discussion progresses and falls into a political or financial debate accompanied by bickering that focuses on the past and rarely the future.”