The Students vs. The Hill: An Unnecessary Civil War
BY ALI VEATCH
Senior Ali Veatch comments on the relationship between students and the administration.
There is no question as to whether or not the vibe on Westminster’s Campus has been more negative this year than usual; it has, and it continues to be negative going into the end of fall semester. There are many reasons and opinions as to why there is such a lack of enthusiasm at events or for student involvement, why there are low enrollment numbers, why there is a financial strain, and why students are, quite frankly, pissed off at the majority of the administration, but what is at the core of all of this?
We, the students, know that there is a new alcohol policy, we know that there is a new grading system, we know enrollment is down and therefore finances are as well, and above all else we seem to know that these issues are coming from “The Hill.” The Hill can be characterized as the administration, the deans, and another other collection of big voices on campus, and it feels like The Hill feels is completely severed from the student body. Yes, there are new policies, and yes, there are enrollment and financial struggles, but these alone are not the problem. The problem, as viewed by many students, is the way in which these new policies and issues were presented to the student body. Students do not feel as if their voices are heard or welcomed by the administration and the lack of interest in what the students have to say seems to be the real issue.
As uninformed as the students feel about these issues, some of us feel almost overly informed about enrollment and financial strains.
In the creating of the new alcohol policy, very few students were selected to be a part of the creation process and even then those students’ voices did not seem to be valued or represented in the final product. Also, when the new policy was presented to (only) the Greek organizations of the campus, there was a great amount of unrest and anger that was not calmed or addressed directly in the meeting. In the implementation of the new grading scale there was protest and discussion as to why students did not want this to happen, but it did, which only reminded us students of the protests against the failed Mesa campus, which also went seemingly unheard.
The frustration does not stop here though. As uninformed as the students feel about these issues, some of us feel almost overly informed about enrollment and financial strains. StuFo members, seminar mentors, and other similar organizations are being constantly reminded of the need for more enrollment and higher retention rates and the pressure seems to be more daunting than it is beneficial.
With so much change, so much pressure, and so many questions, there needs to be a solution and it needs to happen sooner rather than later. It seems that although students are upset about some changes and issues, their negative feelings all end up going back to the lack of communication between students and The Hill. Students keep complaining that they aren’t being listened to or given the opportunity to be informed.
I would like to remind everyone though, that communication goes both ways and it is time to stop complaining and start doing something.
If students want to be heard, they need to make the effort to do so.
To complain and conspire against The Hill only hurts the people with the grievances and all that wasted time is time not being spent on effective communication. Westminster is a small campus; it is very easy to send an email, set up an appointment, send letters, ask to attend meetings and so much more, yet the majority of students are not taking advantage of this. If students want to be heard, they need to make the effort to do so. Saying, “this is stupid and I hate it” is not going to change anything, and doing so is only going to reaffirm the idea that students are not exhibiting enough adult-like behavior to be a part of the decision making processes on campus. But if students were to approach The Hill with open minds, distinct concerns, and ideas for collaborative improvement it is way more likely that the student body’s voice will be heard and valued.
We can no longer complain about not being heard if we are making no effort to be heard by the right people. Talking amongst each other is not going to do anything but fuel the fire of frustration, which just makes matter worse. But if we are taking action and forcing The Hill to listen, we will be heard by the right people, the people who can actually make change happen. We, the student body, need to stop complaining and retaliating with negativity and start acting like the adults we claim to be and express our opinions and ideas in a professional manner. If we want to be heard, if we want more opportunities for involvement, we must take the first step of action and show The Hill that what we have to say is worthwhile and should be considered. The year of 2014 is almost over, we have spent an entire semester focused on the bad things and dwelling in self-pity and it is time to move on to bigger and better things, and I believe we can.