Staff Editorial

One of the most contentious issues among students in recent years has been the perceived attitude of the university administration toward them. We would like to see the administration become more proactive in establishing a policy of holding public forums. At least one, general, open public forum per term should be held in order to establish a more fluid means of communication – and a better relationship – between administrators and the student body.
The first public forum in recent memory was during the third term of the 2007-08 academic year. The forum was supposed to deal with the defacement of a public art project in the quad as well as the false poster campaign against SigEp’s P+H party, though most of the discussion revolved around the administration’s handling of the Hiett drug lab case and the P+H party itself. Most people considered this forum a success, as many students had felt that the administration was being distant before the forum took place.
Last year, there were only two public forums, neither of which elicit the same enthusiasm. The first was a poorly advertised forum called for by GLOW in response to homophobic graffiti displayed in some dormitories. The second was a poorly attended forum provided by the administration to let students have a say in how winter break accommodations should pan out, though most students saw this as a small appeasement to students who felt left out of the schedule change decision.
We view public forums as win-win situations for both the administration and students.
Forums allow students to better understand the administration’s positions and allow students to see how much weight they can reasonably expect their opinions to carry.
Forums allow administrators to gain a better sense of trends in student opinion, and they allow administrators to explain their reasoning in making decisions.
Ideally, students and the faculty communicating more openly with each other could come up with better, more agreeable solutions.
Though, as Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell pointed out during the first forum, anyone can call a public forum, we would be very pleased to see the administration take the first step. It is understandable that many students would feel hesitant in calling a forum, as students might – somewhat justifiably – worry about being perceived as nuisances or whiners after calling a forum.
The public forum is a great opportunity for the administration to show that it cares about students’ opinions and takes them into account when possible. We hope administrators do not pass up the chance.