To the editor:
Where is Kansas University's commitment to student research?
The Museum of Anthropology at Kansas University houses cultural collections representative of indigenous peoples across the globe. These collections represent the cultural diversity that KU claims to support. However, I am gravely concerned about the poor condition that these cultural collections are in and the lack of staffing available to properly care for and preserve these collections.
Despite the expertise of the current staff and their willingness to help student researchers, often their administrative duties and other tasks in running the museum limit their availability to students. Several years ago, KU cut the Museum of Anthropology budget, eliminating staff, including a curator position, thus leaving the museum and its collections in jeopardy. Almost three years ago KU administration closed the museum to the public, further eliminating grant avenues available to the museum.
If KU is really committed to its students and their research, the administration will step up and consider how it can better support the museum financially and administratively. KU has a responsibility to ensure that the Museum of Anthropology's collections are properly cared for and not left sitting on dusty shelves to deteriorate.
I am aware that other departments on campus such as anthropology, archaeology, art history, museum studies and indigenous nations studies use collections in the museum. If KU fails to support this museum and allows these collections to disappear, these departments and other students will no longer have access to these collections for research purposes, and it will be detrimental to the future of my master's thesis.
Johna Van Noy,