Increased student participation needed at various campus forums


t’s no secret that Geneseo students have issues with the way the school is run sometimes. Students have dealt with issues from bureaucratic malaise to lacking resources to the occasional screw found in a piece of pizza or raw food. 

There have also been plenty of times where some college organization looks to make a change, be it Campus Auxiliary Services, the Student Association or the school administration itself. In these attempts of change, students are nowhere to be found.

There have been some exceptions, but more often than not, calls for feedback have gone unheeded. The clearest annual example of this phenomenon is SA. 

Each year, the SA executive board—which is arguably the most powerful body for student advocacy on campus—struggles to get enough students to participate in elections. 

This year alone, four of the eight candidates for the SA board ran unopposed.     Unsurprisingly, only 20 percent of the student body actually voted in the election, according to outgoing SA president senior Michael Baranowski, as cited in a March 30, 2017 Lamron article. 

While it truthfully would take a lot for a student to simply decide to run for the SA board, voting doesn’t take more than a few clicks on the computer. 

With only a fifth of students participating in student elections, SA has less of a mandate to advocate for students, and students’ interests have less of a role in the decisions that the college makes. 

Participating in SA—even by just voting—is one simple way that students can shape the school the way they feel is necessary. Shirking that responsibility leaves the burden to fewer students and makes it much harder to achieve what students really want. 

Of course, sometimes there are issues for students that couldn’t be addressed directly by SA. It’s hard to find a student who has never had an unsatisfactory experience with food services on campus. 

Yet, at the four forums that CAS organized in 2016, a combined total of only 22 students attended any of the forums, according to Tyler Sherman ‘16 cited in a Feb. 11, 2016 Lamron article.

Although many have had plenty of reasons to complain about CAS, probably fewer were committed, causing them to skip all four of the forums. 

For those with legitimate complaints against CAS, the forums would have been an opportunity to push for a change; for those with no qualms, it would’ve been an opportunity to express appreciation with the status quo. 

CAS isn’t the only organization that puts out open forums or seeks out feedback from the campus community. For just about every major position that the college tries to fill, an open forum is held. The most recent major set of open forums was held for the hiring of the provost. 

The provost is essentially the second-in-command to the president, but only a handful of students attended the forums. Instead, various faculty members attended the forum that I went to and questioned the candidate on the issues they held dear. 

Some of those issues likely aligned with student interests, yet there weren’t really any students to question about uniquely student concerns. 

While the opportunity to attend these open forums has passed, there will be more opportunities, which will likely be sparsely attended if current trends remain the same. It isn’t hard to go to a forum, to attend an SA meeting or to respond to surveys. 

There’s only so much that SA, CAS and the administration can do when they don’t know what people want. Geneseo students need to take it upon themselves to shape the school the way they see fit by participating and making their voices heard.