How can we foster open conversation in the Institute?
University administrations hold immense power over whether students are treated with respect and uplifted within their communities on campus. Overall, there seems to be a longstanding trend of disillusion among students toward the administrative body. Thus, we at the Technique wish to discuss the basis for these sentiments, why they are being exacerbated and what steps can be taken to remediate this widening gap between campus administration and its constituents.
One prominent issue that propagates this gap is a lack of open communication and transparency with students. The tone that administration sets is very important. An example of this is with the conversation surrounding student death notices. The privacy of the family is always a priority, but the Institute may not want to spread information about these instances for other reasons. This goes into the relevance of public image. Many students feel that the administration prioritizes image over actual action. Public statements disseminated by administrators are often full of empty condolences, vague comments and repetitive verbiage. It is easy for the audiences of these statements to notice how excessively neutral and detached the words are.
There exists a lack of transparency between administration and students. Tech’s administration is a highly bureaucratic system. However, they also behave in a way that incites student suspicion, by refusing to allow certain students to communicate directly with highly ranked administrators or communicating messages that do not align with their true intentions. Even if attempting to directly correspond with administrators, there are no direct responses. Further, these systems are antiquated and formulaic, so when unprecedented issues arise, the responses become very poor. The administration expects all of their constituents to jump through their hoops and come to them with issues, when the path to do so is needlessly difficult. The core of this predicament is lack of connection between the student body and their administration. While student government is the primary connection to administration, many parts of campus are not represented in their group. Having a student government that is more actively involved with the student community might enable those without a voice to gain one. However, the fault does not lie exclusively with the student government. At a tech-focused school like the Institute, there lacks an outward focus on campus as a whole. Rather, the culture has cultivated an inward focus on school, grades and classes. While there are good resources on campus, students must want to take initiative to tread those paths; however, people do not have the interest or time to do so. This culture is detrimental to the effort to allow more conversation between students and administration.
On the other hand, the administration does not express much concern over what the student body wants as a whole. An example of this is the recent issues with over-admission and overcrowding of the campus. Students are unable to find housing and the campus is filled to the brim, with no space to study in the library or student center and long lines all over campus. Yet, the administration continues to express pride over our increasing number of students, demonstrating an intentional ignorance of Tech students’ interests.
However, this is not an unsolvable problem; there are many steps that administration and highly connected students can take to remedy this. Tech’s administration and student government could reinstate their former practice of using Reddit to look at student concerns. Additionally, they could reduce the number of emails being sent out to students (e.g. Daily Digest), as their channels of communications have become far too saturated. Students and administrators alike are all busy people. Thus, when it comes to communication, quality is the priority over quantity. Even more important, the Institute must cut out the middleman. The administration needs to directly communicate with the student body and genuinely attempt to listen to and address their concerns. They could begin coffee chats with students or town halls. In a university that proudly boasts their No. 27 College Free Speech ranking, those in power must also take steps to make that same speech truly have meaning.
The Consensus Opinion reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of the Technique, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.