Over the last year, the College has started to undergo a lot of changes in a lot of different areas — we have begun the Master Planning process to plan for the next decade of Wooster’s future, the planning for the Lowry renovation has begun in full force and the College is in the process of moving from two student governing bodies to one. These are big changes, and the entire student body should make their voices heard in these processes, yet most do not.
There are countless meetings, planning sessions and Q&A sessions about these issues. The Oversight Committee planned several sessions to hear about what the student body wanted the new student governance to look like, and yet the meetings were almost exclusively attended by students who had participated in one of the two existing bodies in the last several years — very few students outside of student government came. Similarly, something like a half-dozen sessions have been held to field suggestions, questions and comments about the Lowry renovation, and yet at the most recent presentation, I was the only person in a sea of chairs set up in the Pit when the meeting was set to start at 5 p.m. I know that students are busy — I know practice, rehearsal and study groups prevent some students from attending these meetings. But to have one student available out of 2,000 feels unlikely. (I will say that other students showed up shortly after, though the group never exceeded 10.)
I believe it is the responsibility of the administration, the student government or whatever group plans these sessions to ensure there is variety in timing, so that different parts of the student body can attend different sessions. It is also important to send out the information about the meeting time and place sooner rather than later, and that is something that has been done poorly in several instances. However, it is not the responsibility of those planning the meeting to beg students to attend and give feedback (which they essentially are — trust me, being the only student in a large, empty space with President Bolton presenting directly to you from a large projector clearly set up for a crowd is less than a comfortable experience). The student body should care enough about the future of the College and the future students that will attend to show up to at least a few of these meetings. While it can be hard to invest time into something like the Lowry renovation, which most of us will never see as students, we should care enough about the improvement of the College to show up.
I decided to write this not only because I saw how poorly attended these events are, but because I catch my peers, my friends and myself making regular complaints about how things are on campus. Students complain about a lack of representation in student government bodies, but do not attend meetings about government. Students complain about the design of Lowry, the dining services available and the dysfunctionality of the Alley, but do not attend Lowry renovation meetings. Feel free to complain. We all do; I do. But my request is this: when given the opportunity, direct those complaints productively, to someone who is looking for student opinions. You might just be able to prevent a couple complaints for the classes that come after you.