The issue of poor communication between students and the administration was addressed at last week’s Student Senate meeting, when President Shirley Ann Jackson visited. In response, Jackson noted that channels do exist for students to bring their concerns to the administration, even if these channels may not directly be to her. If they desire direct communication with her cabinet, for example, Jackson pointed toward the semesterly “Pizza with the Cabinet” event. From what The Poly saw, students’ reactions to this were not overwhelmingly positive.
The administration claims it is the students’ responsibility to go through the proper channels to communicate with them; the students claim it’s the administration’s responsibility to open direct lines of communication. Both are right. For students, we know it is inconvenient to go through the slow beast that is bureaucracy, but it’s very difficult to make the argument that the administration is not listening to us if we don’t make the effort to do things their way. Bring your concerns through the proper channels; talk to the deans, the Student Life Committee, and/or the Grand Marshal and President of the Union, who have monthly meetings with Jackson. Take note of your conversations and e-mails, and follow up with anyone you speak with.
However, as it stands, the amount of hoops a student has to jump through to get in touch with someone in power makes it an extremely time-consuming process that few understand fully or have the time to deal with, especially when trying to balance an academic work load and extracurriculars. It also does not help that students feel that even when they follow the proper channels, progress halts when they make it to higher levels of the administration. For example, when a student senator asked if it would be possible to establish a line of communication between a student representative and those in charge of performance planning, Jackson responded that that was not the students’ job, and that we’re “here to be students, not run the university.” It’s a fair claim, but no one is asking to run RPI. Students simply want to feel like their input is actually being considered. It is very difficult for us to just “be students” when policies like the Clustered Learning Advocacy and Support for Students initiative are forced onto the entire student body in a top-down approach with little to no input from the student body.
Both sides need to make better efforts to communicate, or the feelings of discontent toward the administration amongst students are going to continue to rise. Students: Know that until something changes, you are going to have to follow the proper channels. Not only that, but try to improve those channels or establish better ones. To the administration: We suggest that the proper channels are not sufficient and should be looked into for improvement. If there is to be a better relationship between students and the administration, both sides have some work to do.