Generally I have an opinion for everything. Some of these opinions I keep to myself, and others I voice unsolicited. The recent student government elections made me contemplate if students really have a voice? Sometimes it appears that university decisions are made from purely a financial perspective, recruitment effort, or public relations standpoint, all of which are great, but when does student input come into play? Is it possible for a shy freshman without a reputation on campus to demand change or are the only voices on campus those of established leaders whose faces are plastered on all the posters?
There have been times when I have wondered if my own comments and suggestions are ever read or taken into account. Many students think that because such and such teacher wasn’t fired that no one read their evaluation or that because the cafeteria hasn’t started serving prime rib that their suggestion wasn’t heard. But really when it comes to important issues, do students have a voice? Recently, the university has done many things to show that the input of students is not only valued, but also sought after.
I’m not a very picky eater and personally enjoy most of what the cafeteria serves. In fact I can tell you that last year on the date of the American Rejects concert I ate my favorite meal the cafeteria ever served, ham and pineapple. The flavors were so mouthwateringly good that I didn’t even mind standing in a long line to get seconds and probably even thirds. However I can also tell you that on one of the special nights when steak was served, it was still mooing. The campus cafeteria does a good job responding to comments much like mine.
Last spring several students tweeted to @unkdining saying they just want some American food like hamburgers and hot dogs. Sure enough UNK Dining delivered because for the entire next week it seemed like all we had was hamburgers of hot dogs. Sometimes they seem to overcompensate as tweeter Kyle Smith said, “Stop with the burgers and fries! Do you really think we like eating the same damn thing everyday twice a day.”
Even if students aren’t always impressed with the food options, taste, or price, UNK Dining does an excellent job of trying to please everyone. Their social media presence and quickness, as well as their many suggestion boxes, show that they care about students’ opinions. They won’t always be able to accommodate everyone, but they look into problems, offer solutions when possible, and respond to your comments. If the basis of student’s complaints are that we aren’t having our mother’s home-cooked recipes and eating for practically free, then they should take into consideration how hard it is to cook quality food (at affordable prices) for an abundance of students.
Venturing outside of the cafeteria and into the classroom, students were given a unique opportunity on Monday, March 25th and Wednesday, March 27th. They were invited to sit in on Dr. Katerine Lavelle’s lecture on how rhetorical criticism can evaluate sports and Ms. Sara Basel’s lecture on interpersonal communication. Both are prospective employees and student input was solicited to help make the decision.
The voices that should be heard are those of the students. The relationship that staff members build with the students helps determine the atmosphere of the university. When you are seeking a person who can manage a classroom, integrate projects and technology into the classroom, as well as uphold school ideals, help strengthen employee relations and moral, and make a difference shouldn’t the students get a voice? We are the ones being directly affected. The decisions on who to hire will in part determine the education that we receive.
The professors, administrators, and other faculty have the power to make a difference. College is the first time most students experience independence. It’s a time when students are finding themselves and figuring out their interests. Students are looking to professors to mentor, inspire, guide, and encourage them. It’s important to us that we have people here who want to make a difference, people who want to be here. It was not only an exciting opportunity for students to take part in, but also a well thought out decision to include students, because everyone in these buildings is ultimately here for us.
I’m sure all students have been aware of the recent construction around campus. What serves as a small inconvenience now, will soon create more space and opportunities for students to learn. Along with remodeling projects, Wednesday, April 3rd and Thursday, April 4th, faculty, staff and students are invited to the third floor of Cope Stadium to observe and discuss the “shape” of UNK’s campus, pertaining to landscape changes including trees, sidewalks, walking paths, and sitting areas that will occur in the next 10-20 years. Maintaining and making improvements to campus are long-going processes. First several groups meet to discuss current and potential problems, brainstorm ideas, and devise solutions. Looking at project planning for something that won’t occur or at least be completed for another 10-20 years, shows just how much goes into making campus the wonderful place it is. It’s a great opportunity for students to take part in and it would be neat to see different academic areas like construction management take active roles in the project.