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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

April 23, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: Criticism should be paired with student engagement

For years, students have been vocal about a slew of issues at Ithaca College. While these issues are seemingly innumerable, some of them include the poor quality of Sodexo’s food, complications with the Integrated Core Curriculum and maintenance issues in residence halls. However, the methods through which students voice their concerns about these issues are largely informal. They opt to voice their grievances colloquially to one another or gripe publicly in class Facebook pages rather than communicate with the administration directly. This consequently leaves our campus community at a sort of standstill — an environment in which students are actively upset but where little change is being made to alleviate these issues.

While this lack of participation is not true for every student at the college, it is significant enough to have an impact on our campus. For an example, look no further back than the ICC program review committee’s draft report, released Jan. 15. Despite the ICC’s being viewed as a long-term issue that affects nearly every student on campus, only 1,547 students responded to the all-college undergraduate survey on the effectiveness of the program. This was despite students’ being urged multiple times by the review committee to participate in its research so it could have the most accurate data possible.

This lack in participation seems to stem from the notion that if students speak to our administration, they will not be listened to, which is not necessarily unfounded. In the past, students have spoken out about experiencing a problem on campus, only for the administration to respond ineffectively. However, this does not justify complete abstinence from campus affairs and makes times when the administration is actively reaching out to students for feedback all the more crucial.

This is where the strategic plan comes in. The development of the strategic plan offers an opportunity for students to provide feedback on crucial issues on campus in an attempt to better the institution’s future. On Jan. 30, the strategic planning committee’s co-chairs — La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and Jason Freitag, presidential fellow and associate professor in the Department of History — announced the next steps in developing the plan. One of these steps is sorting the strategic plan into three separate themes: interconnections among disciplines, schools and partners; investment in people, place and planet; and evolution of students, curriculum and college. These themes have been derived from earlier concepts the committee wanted to address, including the financial and environmental stability of the college, improving connections and receiving recognition on both a national and international level.

It is encouraging to see that the committee has taken concerns on campus seriously and is solidifying their plan moving forward. Perhaps more important is that the committee also announced an open session for students to come in and discuss the working themes, as well as how they can be involved in the plan’s further development. The sessions will be taking place at 12:10 and 4:30 p.m. Feb. 5 in Textor 102.

Once again, the students at the college are being given an opportunity to actively participate and influence the policies on our campus. However, for this plan to actually work and improve the college, students need to show up. Rather than merely voicing our grievances to one another and posting on social media, students should voice their concerns to people who are actually capable of making change on our campus.