At Student Senate’s Speak Up event Monday, many questions were left unanswered, largely because of the low turnout by key administrators with both the Provost and Director of Athletics absent.
This led to a low volume of answered questions, and many of the answers avoided the issues presented and left concerns unresolved.
Another prominent issue was the lack of preparation and professionalism from Student Senate.
When questions were read aloud, the student body officer emcees didn’t appear to know who to address the issue to. It was like watching a poorly choreographed episode of “Whose Line is it Anyway?”
The fact that emcees and audience members didn’t seem to take certain questions seriously was also incredibly unprofessional. No one should be made to feel ashamed of his or her question. Isn’t campus always harping against student apathy? The attitude shown at Speak Up discourages students from offering their feedback or raising their voices because they are afraid their questions will be seen as uninformed.
Even more distressing was the failure of administration to answer important questions adequately, or at all, during the event. Among the questions not answered at all were ones concerning what is being done to retain faculty, and how to handle doctors over-dosing and double-dosing students with prescription medication needs.
One question that stood out for its inadequate answer asked the administration’s thoughts on the solidarity protest that occurred Monday and how administrators plan to make Bradley a more welcoming place for students of color. Interim President Stan Liberty answered, reading off a pre-written sheet and skirting around the actual question, while failing to address the legitimate issues brought up by a concerned student.
However, we do commend several administrators. Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion Norris Chase, Vice President for Student Affairs Nathan Thomas and Director of Dining Services Gayle Hanson were obviously prepared for questioning and adequately addressed the topics brought up by students. Furthermore, they readily stepped up to answer these questions, and some promised to take the unanswerable ones to their absent colleagues.
We realize Speak Up might bring up uncomfortable questions, but administrators are also accountable to students. Administrators should tell the truth; we aren’t stupid. Students know when administrators are slithering around an answer, and conversely, we appreciate it when they honestly say, “You’re right, we failed on that aspect,” or “What steps do you suggest we take?”
Students know administrators are only human, but a part of being a good human, according to the morality of most societies, is telling the full truth.
If administrators want an invested student body, they should be prepared for these hard questions.
A good start to repairing the damage is following up on the issues brought up about diversity on campus, academics, student health and study abroad.
If administrators search out students to discuss these issues with, many problems can be on their way to resolution, and the frustrated feelings these questions bring up can be either avoided or decreased.
Effective communication can often be difficult, but it needs to happen between administrators and students. Administrators need to welcome student feedback and respond in the most open, transparent manner possible.