In recent weeks, a few crucial events were held at Ithaca College — a third forum to discuss the video of a student saying a racial slur, the Integrative Core Curriculum’s outside evaluator’s two open sessions and an update on the strategic planning steering committee’s progress — and all suffered low student attendance. These events were held to give students a voice in the college’s decision-making.
However, despite low attendance, there seems to be no shortage of problems on campus that students are regularly voicing their opinions on. If someone were to view one of the college’s regular social media pages or step into a class, they would be able to see and hear students regularly voicing their concerns to one another. This widespread discontent raises some questions: If students at the college are so upset, where are they? If they want our college to change, why are they not attending events and voicing their concerns?
These questions have a slew of potential answers. At face value, the most obvious answer is that students are truly apathetic about these issues, or starting a dialogue with the administration. We can look deeper than that: The most recent N-word forum is the third of its kind, and it is expected that attendance will dwindle as the subject becomes “old news.” The ICC evaluation and the steering committee update were events where long-term, systemic change at the college were discussed. Some students may feel as though they are not an authority on these issues, or that these events will not impact them during their time at the college.
However, regardless of students’ reasonings for not attending events, the fact remains that students not going to critical discussion and information sessions is a problem. The administration is offering students a platform, an opportunity to have their voices heard, and they are rejecting, if not ignoring, it. While it is true that an event, even one with high attendance, will not fully address the problems on our campus, students have to acknowledge that it is a start and know that their attendance is crucial in shaping the future of our institution.