From the Chief’s Desk: Urging Students to be More Engaged

I often hear from students that the administration doesn’t value student opinion when making decisions for the College. While student outreach might not always be consistent, it seems the Presidential Search Committee has tried to give a fair amount of student access to the presidential candidates brought to campus. It seems only a few took the opportunity to get involved.

Over the past three weeks, I have attended at least one of the public forums for each candidate. I never saw more than 20 students at the forums and in many cases, it was less than ten. It was also clear that at each forum, it was the same people who were showing up over and over again—the student trustee, the student trustee in training, members of the SGA executive board and the Point News staff.

Even if the forums weren’t at convenient times for everyone to attend, the Search Committee included resumes, articles, interviews and speeches on The Portal. One can see how many times each of these documents have been downloaded. When you look at the numbers, its not hard to see that less than 10 percent of students took the opportunity to look at the candidates and what they might bring to the College. I know a petition against Bacchus went around, but how many students could have an informed opinion of candidates if only a very small percentage attended their forums or downloaded materials about them?

Considering the impact the next president has on the quality of life at St. Mary’s, students should care about the candidates brought to campus.How much money the next president can raise, for example, will influence your tuition rates, College services and the quality of academics.

In contrast, when the Protest policies appeared in the handbook last year, students were up in arms about losing their right to protest on campus and were successful in having the policy dismissed by the administration. Although students were willing to fight for their the right to freely express their opinion, it doesn’t seem like they exercise it when it really counts.

At this point, the decision is made and the community will have to adjust to whoever the next president will be. While we might think that our impact on this College is limited to the four years we are here, our action or inaction will leave an imprint on the College beyond graduation. I hope the next time the opportunity presents itself, more students will choose to be engaged.

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