I’d like to invite an administrator and Spec to host a mailbag series
This is a post about fostering a connection among admins and students. Before I get to that glorious point, allow me to talk about housing.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from running the Shaft (along with the handsome Eric Feder) the last two years, it’s that most people here don’t know much about Columbia housing.
Last semester during this two-week interval from the end of March till early April, I couldn’t walk through campus without someone—usually a person I’d never met—asking me a housing question. I cherished the role as an adviser, but in the back of my mind I always thought to myself, “this can’t possibly be the most efficient way to ask housing questions.”
During the last two years I’ve covered housing, I’ve also been blessed with the great privilege of meeting much of the housing staff. After every meeting Eric and I had, invariably, their last words to us would be along the lines of, “let us know what the students say we could be doing better.” I can say with absolute confidence that Housing really (really!) does care. Yet there is a noticeable communication gap between the housing admins and the students. This breeds discontent among students, and understandably so.
Three weeks ago I asked where the student life fee was going. I think the comments in that post made it clear that quite a few people on campus felt similar frustrations with the student life fee. Yet there hasn’t been any follow up or explanation from the administration. This breeds discontent.
In Dean Valentini’s early weeks as dean, during what was perceived as (or actually was) a contentious time in Columbia College’s history, one of his first actions was to hold a town hall where anyone could throw questions at him. Even in times when he flat-out said, “I can’t answer that question because of ___” we still loved Deantini because he was so refreshingly open and honest. This breeds content.
This post was inspired by a few friends who have asked me in the past few weeks to write blog posts answering questions like “what happened to the bike share program?” or “I have this cool idea—who should I talk to about it?” Columbia can be a labyrinth for these kinds of questions, and frankly, no student should have to know the adviser for the bike share program or ask someone they’ve never met for housing advice.
We should be able to turn to a point-person for these questions, who in turn could ask the right people.
So, I’d like to invite an administrator (deans Terry Martinez, Deantini, and Ke$ho come to mind immediately) or student council, or someone in the know to take the time once or twice a month to perform the digital version of Deantini’s town hall—that is, answer a mailbag of questions, any questions within reason, that readers submit to Spec.
To start things off, here are three questions I had:
1) Who in facilities could we talk to about keeping the lawns open?
2) Will the bike share program be continued?
3) What happened to the student-initiated courses initiative?
Mikey Zhong is a Spectrum opinion blogger and former Spectrum Editor. The worst part of being a senior is not getting to experience the anticipation and dread of receiving a lottery number for housing.
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