Administrative transparency: how much are students in the know?

BY: Nicholas Russo

It goes without saying that the average college student has a lot on their plate, balancing an ever-increasing load of coursework with a job, extracurricular activities, and time to themselves.


With so many resources devoted to supporting a budding career path and constant information put forth by their respective departments, it’s understandable why many find themselves ignorant of the developments concerning the college as a whole, subjected to a glut of information advertising any number of events that go on throughout the semester.


Students can’t all be expected to read every email that goes out or keep their fingers to Daemen’s pulse when that all have their own issues to take care of first.


However, this disconnectedness comes at a cost. Quite frequently, student awareness of changes to the Daemen campus exists largely after a decision has been made or action taken, often catching many off-guard in the aftermath.


Take for example  a new esports center, the creation of a new parking lot and footpath behind Schenck Hall or the decision to revoke Dean’s List tuition benefits, the lattermost example generating sizable discourse across the board.


Each of these, for better or worse, are changes which have reaching impacts upon the environment of the campus and its students, but how informed was the average person of these while they were still in the planning phase? Was there meaningful input from the students who these changes would affect the most?


Many indeed found themselves perplexed by fact that such changes were undertaken without ever knowing of the possibility of occurring in the first place, raising concerns of the matter of transparency between the student body and the various facets of the administration.


On one hand, it’s completely reasonable that certain decisions be kept under wraps, as to invite public would muddle efforts to reach resolution efficiently, creating a quagmire of discourse between the boards and students.


On the other hand, however, it is within these quagmires that meaningful discussion can occur, and students are encouraged to voice their opinions in matters which ultimately affect them the most at the end of the day.


Chris Malik, director of student affairs, shed some light on the difficulties in encouraging representation historically with respect to the Student Association Executive Board, the student-run committee serving to supervise and discuss the budgets and concerns of the various student organizations on-campus.


“In the past, the Student Association Board would reach out to students and encourage them to represent students on the various committees, but it became a hassle to find those who were willing to do it,” he said. “Students are now sought out internally for those positions, but we do not necessarily assign delegates currently.”


Malik also touched on the role Student Association plays in spurring discussion of this executive transparency.


“In SA, we’ve been working on reminding the higher-ups to include students more frequently, as the opinions of trustees matter, as do politicians, board members, and sponsors. Students need to be a part of these broader decisions. There’s certainly a lack of transparency on a bigger scale, but SA is good as a start to reaching that goal,” he said.


Student Association meets every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. in Wick 113-115.


While students are indeed selected to serve on these special interest committees, it would only do students well to actively seek out these seats.


Ambitious, dedicated, and informed individuals who seek to accurately represent their fellow students are the kind of people who should be involved more often, and are more inclined to start meaningful discussion among other students in the face of great change.


Several questions remain: Do students have a right to be involved (or their concerns considered, at the very least) in the decision-making process? What more can be done to respect the wishes of the student body before making changes to the campus? Where do we draw the line (if at all) for how much students are allowed to know about behind-the-scenes discussions?


Have an answer or an opinion on the matter? Reply in the comments below, and keep the discussion going further.

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