Tension in protests, petitions and strongly-worded letters. These are some of the ways students have voiced frustration with the administration this semester, dissatisfied by the lack of communication.
The Graduate Student Senate raising concerns about parking, undergraduate Student Senate demanding answers from the administration over housing issues and student protests on the UC Front Lawn all demonstrate student discontent with the administration unexpectedly making decisions with little or no warning.
While students are willing to stand up and confront the administration, there should be better communication in the first place so that both sides feel as though their voices are heard and well-received when it comes to important decisions that will affect the campus community.
Learning from this past semester, there are things that both the administration and student body can do to create a more effective and efficient communication network between the two groups.
On the side of the administration, there should be more transparency with information that will impact the student body, rather than just dropping announcements or decisions completely out of the blue.
One way to increase transparency is through more town-hall-style meetings, where members of the student body can voice concerns or questions to representatives of the respective branch of the administration making any decision.
Preemptive student input would be beneficial in the long run. It’s also important that the administration do well to broadcast and advertise these meetings, so students from all walks of life on campus are well-informed and aware that they’re happening.
Another way to increase transparency would be for consistent newsletters on the Path to Prominence, keeping students, faculty and staff updated on the progress. Identifying areas of work, problems faced with expansion and overall honesty regarding the changes on campus would help students stay more connected with the developments taking place.
Rather than just showing off and boasting about the accomplishments of Path to Prominence and the positive impact it will have down the road, the administration would benefit students who are part of the campus community right now by appropriately informing them on the transition of our campus.
Lastly, the administration should consider an attitude shift to include students as stakeholders in the university and its future. Alumni, parents and various board members — those with deeper pockets who can contribute back to Lehigh — are often viewed as primary stakeholders with little regard given to students. But the student body should be considered just as significant and welcomed at any decision-making situation. Perhaps an advisory committee shared by students, staff and faculty could help reach all categories of people on campus.
Students, on the other hand, should continue to use their voices and speak up when they feel as though their concerns are not being addressed. It’s important to not feel as though protests are the only way to get the point across, and to pick battles with caution. If transparency is to increase, and the student body is made aware of everything happening on campus, getting fired up about every little thing won’t help the case for more communication.
Using the active voice and staying informed about what’s going on at a campus, local and national level is crucial for our understanding about the dynamic of things happening at Lehigh, or some of the decisions that the administration faces.
As long as the students and administration can effectively work together in the future to develop better communication, it shouldn’t feel like an “us vs. them” situation, but rather everyone working together to ensure our campus functions as seamlessly as possible. Everyone deserves their best Lehigh experience.