Staff Editorial: Communication between students and the administration

The Lawrence community as a whole puts forward the appearance that we have an interest in change for the better. We all want to work towards the best version of our university that we can have. Governing and administrative bodies at Lawrence want to make sure the university is running smoothly, and the students want to learn and live their lives in a stimulating environment. The issue we have noticed is that these two spheres of our community often do not communicate as effectively with each other as we believe they could.

We believe that this vulnerability in communication comes from both groups. The governing and administrative bodies—which can be anything from Bon Appetit to the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC)—are not pursuing information actively enough to create the change that students want, and the students are not active enough in asking for what they need.

In order to effectively create the positive changes that students desire, governing and administrative bodies need to collect feedback from students—feedback that gives them an idea of the overall wishes of the student body. The current method of information collection is through anonymous surveys or public feedback boards.

Lawrentians do display the ability and drive to be involved time and time again. It is possible that sometimes governing and administrative bodies might not trust that students will give helpful feedback when some students do not take their responsibility seriously and use opportunities for feedback as a way to mock the group requesting feedback. It must be noted that this is not the norm and that the expectation of such behavior is no reason to be passive about finding out how to improve service.

There are preexisting ways in which governing and administrative bodies can better encourage constructive feedback. One method is to have more personal feedback, such as through focus groups of reliable and invested students, including CORE leaders and residence life staff. Another way to improve the feedback system is to incentivize it. By seeing some kind of reward system, students may be more willing to give feedback. A third improvement could be to establish the importance of constructive feedback with the student body; this is another area where CORE could be useful. This could be a place to show how important it is to fill out surveys to improve the campus in a way that reflects the entire campus opinion.

We trust that once this information is gathered, it is analyzed and changes are made promptly. One more example of a way that governing and administrative bodies could improve the state of feedback gathering would be by making it clearer to students from the beginning as to how the university is structured so that they can give their opinion in the most effective way possible and to the correct person.

Once students know what they want to change and who they should talk to about it, it is the student’s responsibility to relay this information in a useful way that aims at both understanding the system in place and changing what needs to be changed.