By Liem Ho
The discovery and announcement of the administrative leave of Lynn Riker, Director of Residence Life, has stunned students, faculty, and alumni alike since last Friday, February 26.
“What was this decision even based off of? It literally came out of nowhere,” commented third year architecture student and Honors College resident, Kimberly Gokberk.
Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Dean of Students Dr. Laura Valente and Vice President for Academic Support and Student Affairs Dr. Charles Fey have declined to comment on the matter, and cannot provide any information in regards to Riker’s administrative leave.
In response to the administration’s unexplained decision, a petition directly addressed to President Bloom was created in which students and alumni are “requesting for an immediate and complete evaluation of the circumstances and decisions that led to the situation.”
Elizabeth Lee, an NJIT alumni from the class of 2011, created the petition on change.org last Sunday night, March 6. Lee met Lynn Riker when she joined Residence Hall Association (RHA) as a freshman, and after two years, served as Vice President of the organization. “Lynn has always impressed me with all of the work she puts into Residence Life. Despite personal issues she was undergoing at the time I worked with her, she still took the time to put students first—she supported them at events around campus and is loved by the students because she advocates for them,” said Lee.
“For the fact that there are things that are still unsaid, I started this petition,” added Lee.
The petition specifically requests “full independent review of the personnel action” and “complete transparency of the situation.”
Various alumni of NJIT have voiced their opinions on the matter in the comments section of the petition, a majority of which reminisce their memories working with Lynn Riker, but also voice great disappointment with the decision of the administration and their lack of transparency in regards to the matter.
One recent NJIT alumni, William “Billy” Barry, wrote:
“Lynn has made such an incredible and positive impact on NJIT and its students. I was an RA for 2.5 years under her direction and I know that I could not adequately describe her devotion and commitment to her staff and residents. I learned so much from her as a leader and I look back on my experiences with Lynn and NJIT ResLife very fondly. As an NJIT alum, I would at the very least expect transparency for why Lynn would be placed on administrative leave.”
Another NJIT alumni, Taynia Chantelle, wrote:
“Lynn is a true professional. She always has her students’ best interests at heart and if tough decisions have to be made she does so with transparency. As a former RA I can say Lynn led by example and the NJIT community is extremely lucky to have her. We would like to see some transparency regarding this decision to place Lynn on administrative leave by the NJIT board. NJIT would be hard pressed to find someone else who cares as much about the health and well-being of students like Lynn does.”
Current Residence Life affiliates have been instructed not to comment on the matter, as reiterated by the petition, “anyone currently associated with ResLife has been forced to remain silent for fear of backlash from the Division of Academic Support and Student Affairs.”
The petition responds to this course of action, stating, “no one should be afraid to express their opinions, and no one should be bullied into surrendering their individualism.”
The change.org petition’s most top rated comment, written by NJIT alumni Tiffany Pierce, states in the last paragraph:
“NJIT, I ask you to do as Lynn did, and does. I ask you not to hide your face when you make a difficult and inevitably unpopular decision, but rather to open your doors to concerned students and staff members to help them understand and move forward the best you can. I ask that you find the same selflessness, transparency, dedication, and professionalism that Lynn Riker has and face the decision you made head on with adequate explanation. And most of all, I ask you to be fair and put the students first; To take responsibility for the predicament you created, to truly listen to what students have to say, and to be honest. Let this be the life lesson you take with you to make you that much more successful.”
To read the full petition, and view all alumni and student responses, please visit https://www.change.org/p/njit-president-joel-bloom-truth-for-lynn-riker-njit-reslife-director.
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