Students gather to discuss university Strategic Plan
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 18:10
Two independent consultants met with students on the 14th floor of the Wabash Building last Monday and Wednesday in an attempt to gather feedback for a university feedback session, aptly called Strategic Plan.
Nearly fifty students attended the sessions, had a bite of free pizza and discussed campus issues and how to resolve them. Sal Rinella, a senior associate for Penson Associates, spearheaded the sessions and asked groups of students three fundamental questions:
• Is Roosevelt University easier or harder than you thought it was going to be?
• What would you say to high school students about why they should come to Roosevelt University and what would you like to say, but can’t?
• You are named president of Roosevelt for a month, what would you change?
Students were divided into small groups and tasked to write their responses and present them to the entire group on large posters. Diverse student population, personable faculty members, small class sizes and the university’s location in the Loop were agreed positives.
However, heavy criticism filled the room about Roosevelt’s shortcomings and where improvement was needed, particularly regarding student apathy and lack of student involvement.
Social justice major and Student Government Association President Channing Redditt voiced his opinion on many of the issues brought up at the session as a concerned student, but also stepping into his role as SGA president as well.
“Things we would like to say is that students are really involved around here, but they aren’t,” Redditt said. “For some reason, the few events that we do have students seem not to come and so that discourages the students that plan these events from having them all the time because students aren’t showing up. So we’ve gotta find out what it is that’s drawing those students besides the free pizza.”
A general theme that was presented on both days of the sessions was the lack of a space on campus for everyone to use and socialize in. Redditt touched on the issue and emphasized an importance of having campus space for students to play games, interact and socialize.
Students agreed that a multicultural center is needed on campus, where students could feel open and safely express themselves. This tied in with some concerns of LGBT students who said they feel they don’t have a place on campus to gather for conversation and socializing.
“There’s a point of view that having a single location in some ways suggests that the total campus isn’t an environment that everybody feels completely comfortable in,” Rinella said. “Other individuals feel that having a location that is focused on one group of individuals is a good thing to do. I think its a legitimate difference in point of view.”
Rinella assured students that he would pass the message along for creating a safe, multicultural space on campus where students from all walks of life can feel comfortable.
Another issue addressed was the fact that students are bounced from office to office when trying to get questions answered, dubbed the “Roosevelt runaround.” A majority of the students agreed that the problem lies on the Mezzanine level of Wabash, which contains the Registration, Student Accounts and Academic Advising offices.
Some students took a scathing tone and said that despite having great faculty and a solid location, Roosevelt is trying to emulate other universities with the addition of new sports programs and cosmetic changes.
Jessica Thiesen, an SGA senator and undergraduate political science major, said students choose to go to Roosevelt because it offers something different.
“We thought going here would give us a different education that we couldn’t get anywhere else,” she said.
Thiesen also pointed out the disparity between the salaries of administrators and instructors. She went on to say that her small group feels the university administration overlooks the student body when making decisions and that students are viewed as an afterthought.
“I believe that this school is run like a corporation. We use social justice as a way to advertise people to come here and then we turn it around and we run it like a corporation on the inside,” Thiesen said. “We spend way too much money on administration, not enough on instruction or on students, and it is a really big problem.”
Rinella said that the idea behind these sessions was to create a five-year university plan stating what needs to be done to further develop the campus and serve the students and surrounding community.
The consultants have had three campus-wide assemblies to obtain feedback and have also met individually with students, staff and faculty to gain different perspectives on how to better develop and improve the university.
“Success of students is very important,” Rinella said, “everyone cares very much that students find this experience here one in which they can grow, thrive and complete the dreams that they came here for.”
Have more strategic plans for the university? Tweet us your thoughts at @RUTORCH.