In the midst of confusion: student and faculty concerns

pointingBy Hannah Bleau |

Stop almost anywhere on campus and the news about misreported data will certainly come up. While a good amount of students find it confusing and easier not to worry about, many have legitimate concerns.

On Feb. 17, students and faculty received a relatively vague email stating that a senior admissions official, later revealed to be vice president of enrollment Marc Williar, had “voluntarily resigned” after misreporting various data. Although preliminary evidence was kept private, deductive reasoning suggested there was more to the story. Flagler is home to over 2,000 students and immediately students wondered how this would directly affect them.

President William Abare Jr. addressed the student body on Tuesday afternoon, which allowed an unfiltered amount of questions from a concerned student body.

Some students saw his address as a “honest overlook”, while others remained skeptical.

“I just think it makes look Flagler look bad,” one student said.

Questions arose about the credibility of the college. Many students were concerned about how the scandal will affect the validity of their degrees. Abare assured students it would not affect them in this way.

“We are a well-respected institution of higher education. The action of one individual should not in any way blemish the fine reputation that we have built over the years,” Abare said.

But other questions came up. Were students admitted on what President Abare called “fraudulent data?” Were there financial motives to this type of behavior? Again, President Abare said no.

Students were anything but shy when it came to asking questions.

“The questions that were asked were on point and cut throat. You can see the students actually really cared about this because this is their future,” said Tiphanie Frazier, a student at Flagler.

Most students seemed confused about the data and what it meant for the school and for them. Many felt more comfortable with the situation after hearing Abare’s remarks.

Jameka Delaine, a junior communications student, attended the meeting to get some clarity on the situation.

“I just wanted to know what was going to happen because it’s something that can easily be misinterpreted. When we got the email, we really didn’t know what happened. All we knew was that our documents had been changed,” Delaine said. “I just felt like that’s something that really needed to be explained because people didn’t know. Was it just when we got here? Was it since we’ve been here? It really wasn’t clear.”

Delaine sentiments reflect those of other students. While many genuinely care, the situation itself is complicated.

“He did a really good job of explaining it, and I really did appreciate how he was very honest and up front with us like ‘this is what happened, this is what we’re going to do, stay with us and have faith in us’,” Delaine said.

Students were demanding transparency, and it seems that’s precisely what they got.

Because the topic is new and an investigation is currently underway, many faculty members declined to comment on the situation. Rachel Branch, Flagler’s director of admissions, was open to talk about it.

Branch said the Office of Admissions had no prior knowledge of former vice president of enrollment Marc Williar’s motives in inflating the data.

“Our office hasn’t talked to Marc since he let us know and when the president let us know that he resigned. What we read in the St. Augustine Record said he was uncomfortable with the dip in the class profile and that’s why he did it, but that’s all that we know that has happened,” she said.

Branch does not see this affecting future enrollment for Flagler College.

“We have a healthy applicant pool at this point. Even yesterday and today, we’ve had upwards of 30 to 40 visitors. Campus applications and deposits are still rolling in, so for us, you know, it’s pretty positive news over here still,” Branch said.

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