Yesterday the University held an academic forum to answer students’ questions about the proposed schedule change to be implemented next fall. When faced with questions from confused students, University Provost Dr. Julia Upton acknowledged that there has been a lack of communication between the administration and the student body. For students at the forum, this might have seemed like the understatement of the year.
When asked why St. John’s students hadn’t received any formal notification of the change or why the community had been left in the dark during the process of planning the change, Upton said she couldn’t answer. Instead, she stated that most students had heard about the schedule change through The Torch.
Upton’s notion that the student body was informed of the schedule change through The Torch gives the impression that the administration supplied The Torch with information and communicated its decision on the schedule in the paper. This could not be further from the truth.
In actuality, The Torch was able to break the news of the proposed schedule change through investigation, not with the assistance or direct communication with University officials. In fact, after The Torch learned of a possible schedule change, we tried to set up meetings through Media Relations to discuss the details and report the change to students.
However, were told we wouldn’t be able to sit down with administrators until after the logistics of the schedule were determined. According to the administrators at this week’s forum, this information will not be available until next week.
Upton may have created a misunderstanding at yesterday’s academic forum by mentioning The Torch in this way. After all, The Torch is a news organization, not a mode for administrative communication.
One of the main reasons for why droves of angry students showed up to yesterday’s forum with a list of questions is that the administration has failed to communicate their plans directly with the students of this university. The decision to make a change in the school’s schedule did not involve the students it will directly affect, and the details of the schedule itself is yet to be fully explained by the administration.
Besides an e-mail from Father Harrington to faculty members, no notification or information has come forth from the school to its students. What’s worse, University President, Father Harrington, didn’t even stay for the entire forum to face the students he’s neglected to address. Meanwhile, Upton insisted yesterday that this e-mail was sent to “the entire academic community.”
This, we know, was not the case since students did not receive it.
The University needs to adopt a more direct habit of communication with its students.
If the administration can put up multiple surveys online about students’ mascot preference, they can inquire about what those same students feel about a school-wide schedule change.
For most students, the importance of their schedules far outweighs the name of their new school mascot. The University has tried so hard over the past year to incite school spirit, but what the administration fails to understand is that it’s not just about getting more students to show up at basketball games.
Free food and incentive programs are great, but to really build a sense of school spirit and community, the students must be included in big decisions and not ignored about issues such as the schedule change.