EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – Many Emporia State University (ESU) instructors were upset after the school newspaper released an article containing controversial comments from the school’s new president, Ken Hush.
His comments were directed toward the school’s plans to tear down the Butcher Education Center, where some teachers enroll their children in childcare services while working on campus.
According to Emporia State’s student newspaper, “The Bulletin,” President Hush made the following comments during an interview with the paper’s Editor-in-Chief.
“A few people say we’re not really doing this together because we’re closing down ‘CECE’ (Center for Early Childhood Education),” Hush said. “I laugh when I hear that because they’re not understanding the overall high-level concept.”
Several ESU instructors are upset about this response to their concerns. One instructor told 27 News Hush’s comments made her feel discouraged, and others are worrying about the future. Gwen Larson, the university’s media liaison, offered an explanation for Hush’s words.
“His comment was more along the lines of ‘I can’t believe that I shake my head, I laugh at that.,'” Larson said. “‘That’ being the implication that we didn’t do due diligence to come to this decision.”
The school said there was plenty of consideration behind the decision to remove the education center. However, the authors who released Hush’s comments said a lot of thought went into writing that article too. Considering the concern surrounding on-campus childcare, they felt the need to share that information.
“I brought [Bulletin reporter] Sam in to help interview Erika Martin, the professor and activist, and just also get second opinions and thoughts since I was in that interview and was disappointed by those comments, just so I could bounce them off,” said Noah Eppens, Editor-in-Chief. “And we also talked with our advisor Max McCoy to make sure weren’t saying anything that was ‘out-of-pocket’ or unethical as a journalist.”
Emporia State announced the center’s closure in May, but the plan to tear the building down has been in the works since 2014. The center will close in August 2023 to give people time to make other arrangements.
Despite mixed feelings about the demolition, the school said it doesn’t make financial sense to keep the building running when only a small percentage of the school community uses it.
Larson said the center was created for education students to get hands-on classroom experience while studying at the university. The program for those students has since changed, and Larson said the building is no longer being used for its original purpose.
However, the school said it’s sensitive to the worry many are feeling.
“Many of us have found ourselves in this same situation in the past in other settings — having to find new daycare for whatever reason,” Larson said. “So we know how difficult that is. We are doing what we can to help those families.”
Many instructors are most concerned about finding childcare for their young children once the education center closes. As of right now, the school doesn’t have plans to add any on-campus childcare services and plans to move forward with the demolition.