Last week’s University of Dallas Town Hall displayed Student Government (SG)’s effort to perform its most crucial role in the community: to connect students and the administration in order to involve everyone in SG’s decisions, visions and opinions regarding the continuing development of our school.
As a result, students are able to have their voices heard and their opinions considered, while administration is able to learn about the aspects of campus life that may lie unseen by non-students.
This relationship between students and faculty members is the heart of campus life. By fostering and facilitating it, SG creates a more unified and involved community.
Given the importance of its involvement, SG has been all too invisible on the UD campus in the past. The Town Hall meeting was an effort to remedy this problem. The UD Town Hall provided a long overdue opportunity for the student body and members of administration to become better acquainted with one another.
Styled as an open forum where students could present their questions directly to the administration, the UD Town Hall was an excellent platform on which to build the student-administration relationship.
The panel consisted of Dore Madere and Catherine Duplant from Student Life, Kyle Wilson from Dining Services, Dick Strobine from Athletics and Dr. Jonathan Sanford, Dean of Constantin College.
With such a variety of administrative departments represented, a wide range of topics were addressed, from meal plans and soccer fields to dorm conditions and concealed carry on campus.
While many specific questions offered insight into various changes on campus and the reasons behind them, perhaps the most revealing questions were the ones which received blank stares from the faculty.
These signaled that administration was simply unaware of certain problems experienced by students, such as poor nighttime lighting in certain areas of campus.
More often than not, these blank stares behind the podium were quickly followed by quick and easy suggestions about what could be done to fix these problems.
Students were also afforded the opportunity to learn about the reasoning behind decisions which resulted in student confusion, such as meal plan changes and the overflow of new students in the dorms.
The UD Town Hall signaled a new direction for SG, or at least a renewed effort to connect all members of the UD community. At the forum, both students and faculty members expressed the desire to become better familiarized with each other.
However, the work of SG is just beginning, and there is still plenty of room for improvement. Many students still feel estranged from the people who make the decisions at UD — decisions that can’t be made without the input of the entire student body.
Hopefully, more opportunities for discussion like the Town Hall, as well as fun events, will get students and administration out of their dorm rooms and offices, and into a more involved UD community.
While SG has the important responsibility to lead such involvement, members of the community don’t have to wait for events or meetings to get to know each other. Sanford offered to host a dinner for students at his home and requested invitations to any pick-up basketball games that occur on campus.
Students who straddle the barrier separating them from faculty explained that members of administration are actually quite pleasant people.
Such action to unite our community and disintegrate the separation between students and faculty members will influence administrative decisions and school pride throughout the campus.