Archive for Monday, February 2, 2009

Haskell concerns

Evidence is mounting of problems involving the top administration at Haskell Indian Nations University.

February 2, 2009


A meeting this week with Haskell Indian Nations University President Linda Sue Warner and members of the Haskell Board of Regents should give the Bureau of Indian Affairs a good opportunity to assess the controversy that continues to rumble at the Lawrence school.

It was only fair to give Warner a chance to get her feet on the ground after becoming the Haskell president in 2007, but evidence is mounting that it is time for the BIA take a hard look at Warner’s leadership and the complaints it has stirred among Haskell alumni, staff and students.

Among the problems was the announcement two weeks ago that the Haskell Endowment Association would disband. Although the association’s whole reason for existence was to raise money for the school, board members said they had received no cooperation from Warner or her office and no response to letters and e-mails seeking meetings with Warner. The loss of the endowment and the $90,000 it transferred to the American Indian College fund certainly is a blow to Haskell.

Last week, a student who had been an outspoken critic of Warner told reporters she had been graduated and kicked out of her dorm during the break between fall and spring semesters. In published reports, Warner has said Haskell officials waived a required course and advanced the student to graduation because she had enough hours to graduate and they needed to make room for another student. This sounds irregular to say the least.

Last August, the Haskell Board of Regents asked the BIA to remove Warner as president, citing concerns about possible irregularities in accounting, procurement and hiring at Haskell. The board of regents has no power to fire Warner, but members sought this week’s meeting with BIA officials in Washington, D.C., at least in part to discuss the regents’ role at the school.

Both the regents and Warner were scheduled to be in Washington this week anyway to attend a reception at the National Museum of the American Indian to honor 125 years of Haskell’s existence. It’s unfortunate that such a proud occasion also is marked by dissension.

Haskell is an important asset to Lawrence, as well as a significant part of the nation’s American Indian culture and history. Leading such a unique and diverse school is a difficult task, and early criticism of Warner could be dismissed largely as the kind of dissatisfaction that often occurs during a change of top administrators. Now, however, Warner’s lack of support and communication, coupled with specific examples of some puzzling policies and actions, seems to justify further examination by BIA officials. Hopefully that will occur at this week’s meeting in Washington.


farmgal 9 years, 4 months ago

Graduating a student without the proper credit hours--wow!It is a school run by the federal government. It has a long history of shady goings-on. This last incident isn't the 1stand certainly won't be the last.

JohnBrown 9 years, 4 months ago

"It’s unfortunate that such a proud occasion also is marked by dissension." Today's LJW editorial.In 1883 Haskell Institute was founded as one of several off-reservation Indian boarding schools throughout the United States. Their purpose was provide vocational training with a strong emphasis in agriculture, with the goal of providing a means for assimilating Indians into the American Anglo-Saxon economy (“learn to earn’) and culture. The school initially included grades 1-5 with a focus on practical education. The goals of these schools went beyond ‘education’ and included ‘civilizing’ Indians so they could be integrated or assimilated into the rising dominant culture. Over the door of another off-reservation Indian boarding school, Hampton Institute, was a sign which read “Destroy the Indian to save the man” (Wildcatt, KU lecture, 1997).The off-reservation Indian school, aimed at the youngest, most impressionable members of Indian society, represented a third phase of the European expansion into North America: cultural quarantine. Phase one was displacement (that’s how the Shawnee, originally from the Ohio River valley, came to Kansas). Phase two came about when the U.S. Government realized that the lands from which the eastern Indians had been displaced to were also needed for expansion, resulting in western military operations and the deliberate extermination of the bison. It is probable that the defeat of the 7th Calvary at the Little Big Horn had much to do with the Federal government re-examining its military policies towards Indians and opened the way for the more humane strategy of cultural and ethnic assimilation through education: “destroying the Indian to save the man”.To this end, the off-reservation schools were run like military schools: uniforms, a platoon structure, strict rules and marching to classes. Students found speaking their native tongue were punished, often with a 1 to 3 day detention on bread and water (Meriam Report, U.S. National Archives). (Note: Quebec, Canada, has strict language rules too; today, children found not speaking French in the school-yard are reprimanded). Recruitment to Haskell was equally harsh. In 1891 Congress passed several regulations providing for compulsory school attendance. These acts permitted reservation superintendents to force parents to send their young children to off-reservation Indian schools, creating an effective “cultural quarantine” of children essential to mold them into productive and accepted citizens. To this end, reservation agents were also granted the power to claim guardianship over children of uncooperative parents (see: 26 Stat. 989, 1014; 25 U.S.C. 284[ 1891]; 27 Stat. 120, 143, 25 U.S.C 284 [1892]; 27 Sta. 612, 628, 25 U.S.C. 283 [1893] ). The statutes allowing reservation agents to withhold food to non-complying parents was rescinded in 1895.

haskellgal 9 years, 4 months ago

The staff at Haskell are here to teach us and teach us they have. We just used the teachings as a tool to defend the school. There have been many students who have been very opinionated like Brenda Councillor. We need more people like her. We need more students to stand up, and ban together to better the school. My question is this. Isn't there some type of legal concern with the president of HINU commenting about information involving a student? From what I understand, she is not supposed to let others be aware of who is even attending this school, let alone comment on her degree requirements needed. Maybe someone needs to look into that too! Onward, Haskell. Onward, Haskell. THIS IS OUR WAR CRY!

4chewnut 9 years, 4 months ago

I find it really sad that Haskell Endowment decided to fold because of one person. Isn't the goal of any endowment to serve the institution and look to the future? If a new president comes in that person has no endowment. And ultimately the students suffer.

Carol Bowen 9 years, 4 months ago

What evidence? The only evidence I have read is evidence of gossip. It's a shame a jworld reporter is willing to report it.1. Ljworld slightly reported that there was an investigation. No wrong-doing was found. There was no evidence of impropriety.2. Also slightly reported was that the trip to D.C. is to celebrate Haskell's 125th anniversary, and incidentally, the meeting with the Board of Regents is to come to an understanding on the board's role.3. The gossip is reported repetitiously ad nauseam. It's the some ol' stuff.4. It would be inappropriate for Haskell to share information about students.At least this time, the gossip is in an editorial instead of an article. Get it right ljw.

haskellrises09 9 years, 4 months ago

I am amazed at the sorry state of professional journalism here in Lawrence as evidenced by the ever more slanted portrayal of the events at Haskell Indian Nations University as failures of the President. In each successive article, as in the case of this pathetically timed editorial, there are allegations of corruption and/or treachery that are soon found to be completely unsupported by facts or greatly exaggerated.When the investigations turn up not a single fact to support an allegation against Dr. Warner does the Journal-World print that headline on the front page? No. They print a sentence in yet another story of how bad things are at Haskell under her leadership. Ridiculous. Unprofessional. And unethical, to say the least.It used to be that journalists dug-up facts themselves and uncovered truths or untruths. Not so the Journal-World. It primarily listens to those few complainers who seek them out and then obtains one or two comments from federal authorities who are largely unable to respond, because of the rules they must follow, and that's it. Case closed. Dr. Warner must go...Here are some facts that the paper could uncover if it wanted to do some authentic old-fashioned journalism: Overall Haskell is headed in a positive direction, with improvements either ongoing or on the horizon on a variety of fronts. Most students understand that Haskell has been operated from a boarding-school mentality, and that it is now in an era where that will not do. The vocal minority crying to the Journal-World would like to see as few changes as possible at Haskell, preferring to leave things as they have been - with no comprehension of the fact that the status quo is unacceptable.A good journalist would have dug deeper into the reason the Endowment really dissolved and where the $90,000 came from to begin with. If those people had the best interersts of the students in mind, they would have swallowed their pride, rolled-up their sleeves, and raised $900,000 not $90,000. Taking their ball and going home, as it were, was a childish response and not befitting the responsibility those people had to the students and the legacy of the Institution.Enough said. Now let's see how long it takes for the whiners to rip this comment apart. There will be no response from this side of the debate.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

While the JW's reporting on Haskell has indeed been scant, haskellrises09, your post really doesn't provide much in the way of facts, but rather a good deal of spin.Haskell may need many of the changes you suggest, but the troubling actions towards Councillor suggest that this president and administration may not be the ones who should be leading the way. Is that merely the tip of the iceberg?

haskellrascal 9 years, 4 months ago

In all actuality Ms. Councillor has taken this course several times. More specifically she had enough credits without this course to graduate. With that said, I pose this question. Are you not to go to college to seek a degree? She obtained said degree and is bashing Haskell for it? Amazing.

haskellrises09 9 years, 4 months ago

Well, Bozo, you miss the point. It's not for me to do the LJW's work for them. Lots of people could post or send them numerous facts, but it seems like they should do their job and get information through solid investigative journalism, which means making judgements about whose facts are closest to the truth. The main point of my post was that they were not doing this, they have not done this, they seem uninclined to do this.You're right; what I said might be spin. It's up to reporters to decide what is or isn't spin. They are trained to do this. So far they have done all too little..RIP

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"In all actuality Ms. Councillor has taken this course several times. More specifically she had enough credits without this course to graduate. With that said, I pose this question. Are you not to go to college to seek a degree? She obtained said degree and is bashing Haskell for it?"I think she's bashing Haskell for the way it was handled, and from all the information publicly available, rightly so.haskellrises09-- I can agree that this story has been poorly covered. I think those associated with Haskell deserve to know much better what really is going on.

cowboy 9 years, 4 months ago

There is little on public record about this spat , but it seems pure and simple a power struggle between tribes , endowment , and regents who want active control of Haskell versus the BIA and President Warner. All the rest seems to be hurt feelings legitimate or not.

sypeccary 9 years, 4 months ago

I agree, Haskellrises09. If all the facts were to come to light the focus would not be on Warner. For the most part I like LJW, but this editorial is outrageous and irresponsible.

friendofhaskell 9 years, 4 months ago

The only way to fully know what is or is not occurring at Haskell will be for a fully independent investigation to be conducted by impartial and expert investigators from a federal agency with no vested interest in the findings. Serious allegations have been reported in the LJW and all of these diminish Haskell. A thorough investigation into the allegations swirling around is not the same as a visit by BIA to sweep complaints under the rug. Employees should be granted immunity if they have knowledge of wrongdoing so that the issues are resolved once and for all. Those in the community concerned about Haskell should lobby for federal intervention at the highest level.

only4theblogs 9 years, 4 months ago

I think it is only fair to look at the previous administration and what they weren't doing and look at what Haskell is trying to do now to make the education, resources and opportunities available for students. The majority of the folks who sit on their board don't have any clue about the current atmosphere of higher education and what have they done to help the school? Regarding the endowment, why did it take so long to get started and who even knew the university had one? As for the student forced to graduate against her will, it is about time now get out and use your degree to help your people. Whoever her advisors were they should be ashamed about allowing her to continue on and provide no direction. What is happening at Haskell is change. These issues are no different than what goes on at other places. I think it is time adminstrators, faculty and staff and students pull together and live up to the mission of the university. Lastly, there is always two sides to every story. It seems as though only one side and the same players involved seem to regurgitating the same story. Onward Haskell!

manus_flexibilis 9 years, 4 months ago

The opportunities were being made available to students that were/are representing Haskell at professional meetings/conferences. The remaining balance of costs such as meals, per diem,travel,etc., were covered by the the endowment. The full cost may have been covered. Allegations are alarming!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

" As for the student forced to graduate against her will, it is about time now get out and use your degree to help your people. Whoever her advisors were they should be ashamed about allowing her to continue on and provide no direction."Why do people keep saying this? There is no indication that she wasn't working towards graduation (she only lacked one required course,) or that she has no intentions of seeking employment. Isn't it possible that the 10 hours of extra credit hours were in course work that she thought would improve her employment possibilities? Or that she intended to take other (elective) coursework that would do likewise?I know of no other university anywhere which terminates students' enrollment simply because they have taken classes outside of their major.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.