Letter to the Editor: Bill Johnson and YSU

The Youngstown State University board of trustees offered Bill Johnson the position of YSU president Nov. 16. This came as a surprise to all faculty, staff, students and community members at YSU. 

The board hid this decision from all of the people who would be most impacted. This lack of transparency goes against the trust the faculty has been trying to build between the admin, the faculty and the students. The board has again proven its lack of commitment to building that trust and its blatant disregard for the voices of students and faculty.

The YSU community has taken it upon itself to voice the opinions that it does not want Bill Johnson as YSU’s new president. Within the first hour, the petition against this decision had over 100 signatures. One student shared why they signed the petition in the comments saying “This would be a huge disgrace to students, faculty, and all others who have worked so hard to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion on YSU’s campus. We need someone that actually values the needs of the student body.” 

Johnson is a politician who has been open about his anti-LGBTQ+, anti-choice, anti-DEI and anti-immigration viewpoints. When brought onto a college campus this rhetoric will directly affect the policies, resources and statements made by the administration. This will greatly affect who stays at YSU and who leaves to seek a university that values them and their safety as a POC student, a first-generation student, an LGBTQ+ student, an international student, a disabled student and/or many other protected minority groups. YSU will lose students over this decision. 

As a senior at YSU and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s disheartening that our board of trustees does not value our input or even attempt to include us or our professors in this important decision. 

Not only is this lack of transparency upsetting, but the backlash from students makes it clear that they do not support the board’s actions. I hope that the administration sees how unpopular this decision is and reconsiders and commits to being more transparent in the future, including the community in these important decisions. I encourage you to make your voice heard by signing the petition at www.change.org/p/bill-johnson-is-wrong-for-ysu.

Rose McClurkin

Senior Political Science Major

Nov. 19, 2023