To the administrative staff:Last Thursday, roughly 40 students experienced first-hand how frustrating it can be to get your voice heard at Lawrence. As you undoubtedly know, a panel discussion was held in Riverview Lounge to address the questions and concerns raised by students about the changes to senior class programming. The panel consisted of a group of staff members who made the recommendation to the administrative staff to close the Viking Room on the night of the Senior Dinner.
We would first like to note our appreciation to the members of the staff for graciously taking their time for this forum. The panel clearly presented their concerns with the Senior Dinner events, most of which were legitimate and reasonable. On the whole, the discussion was both helpful and informative.
But while the panel discussion was positive, the overall situation is not. Our frustration does not come from the decisions that were made, per se. Instead it stems from an all too familiar occurrence; administration ignoring student input. The decision-making procedures used by the administration over the past several years serve as examples of disregarding the student voice. Although all of these issues cannot be addressed in one letter, we feel the need to elaborate on a few of the most recent.
Students rely on the Lawrence University Community Council to be their voice in campus dealings. According to Lawrence’s own charter, LUCC is supposed to have a say in on all non-academic campus issues. When the president’s office decided to ban smoking in university owned and leased buildings without consulting the council, it usurped LUCC’s power. Even after LUCC passed a resolution demanding that they be included in the decision, they were not.
Formal Group Housing is yet another important area that student opinion was disregarded when President Warch appointed all the members on the FGH selection committee. These appointees were responsible for helping decide which student groups would receive small houses. Instead of allowing LUCC to choose who they saw fit, Warch took that duty upon himself at a particularly sensitive time with the fraternities.
In regards to senior class programming, the discussion came too late. Students should have been asked for their opinions before the initial recommendation was made. But at least a panel was held. No such courtesy was granted with the smoking ban or formal group housing. What separates last week’s forum from past decisions is the willingness of at least some administrators involved to offer direct responses to students.
Part of the “Lawrence Difference” is supposed to be the emphasis placed on student involvement. But why should students waste their time getting involved only to be ignored? Clearly, this issue is of great concern to students (a large percentage of the senior class came to the panel discussion). Given the noticeable absence of some members, we can only conclude that a majority of the administrative staff simply does not care what students think.
We write this letter with hope that you will respond in writing to our concerns. However, we will not hold our breath as the events of the past year have shown that student concerns and wishes are not a priority.
Steven Tie Shue
Senior Class President