Students and faculty need to commit to open forums to improve campus life 

Correction: This story has been updated to correct a statement made by Beth Ostendorf. Student Congress does not regularly confirm attendance at its monthly campus chat, but there is no specific reason for this choice. An original version of this article said Congress members do not collect attendance because "so few students attend." This story has also been corrected to reflect Ostendorf's official title as Assistant Director of Student Involvement

THE FRANKLIN EDITORIAL BOARD 

A strong relationship relies on teamwork and good, active communication between both parties. 

While Franklin College staff has reassured us they try the best they can to be open about their future plans, there is a noticeable lapse in campus dialogue and intentional planning around central issues. 

For example, after fall break, the college invited consultants from the firm Isaacson, Miller to campus to solicit student feedback as to what they want to see in the new president. However, students did not receive word of this opportunity until Oct. 15, which was two days before fall break and less than a week before the consultant visit. 

As a result, no students — besides reporters from The Franklin and FCTV — attended the forum. 

Although college officials admitted the date wasn’t ideal,

the problem may stem from a lack of student interest as well. It’s no question the student body does not participate in regularly scheduled “campus chats” held monthly by Student Congress. The purpose

of the forum is for the college to remain transparent with students, including those who are not a part of Student Congress leadership. 

While Beth Ostendorf, staff adviser to Student Congress and

Franklin College’s assistant director of student involvement, did not disclose specific details about attendance, she noted the organization does not track participation. There is no specific reason for not tracking student attendance, she added.

Still, Ostendorf noted that she and Student Congress leaders value the student body’s right to get their voice out on a public platform. 

“I think students do have the power to pursue change and make changes on their campus, but those changes are not going to happen if faculty, staff and administration don’t know what students are concerned about,” Ostendorf said.

If the school wants students to be more involved, they need to accommodate our busy schedules. It’s understandable that students can’t attend meetings if we are receiving emails so close to an event. 

Assistant Vice President of Physical Facilities, Tom Patz, understands people are busy and can’t attend every meeting. Yet, he wants to reassure students that his team is there to help and hear out anyone who needs it. 

“I think attendance of open chats is always a challenge depending on the day and time. With classes, sporting events, Greek life and other campus events, it is tough to find a time when everyone can attend,” Patz said. 

That’s a point where Student Congress’ president, senior Jackie List, agrees on improving. 

She said it’s better to give students time to prepare when an important event is coming up so they can plan accordingly. List said there should also be other mediums of communications since some students don’t check their emails as often.

“I think is really important for students to get involved so they can make the campus the way they want it to be,” List said. 

Sophomore Anissa Edwards said that because she is a commuter, it makes things more difficult for her to be involved. 

“It’s a lot harder for me to be involved around here because I work in my hometown in Columbus,” Edwards said. “When I commute for class I have to leave again for work and it’s hard to get back to campus because it’s almost a 30 minute drive.”

Student Congress is a resource for everyone on campus–and off-campus– to use when there’s an issue at hand. Some students are not aware that congress members have representatives who are open to speak to anyone who has something to say. They are here to facilitate issues to facilities and staff and find the best way to fix the issue. 

Everyone knows the ongoing complaints when it comes to the food, the parking and facilities. Ostendorf pointed out that staff and facilities are willing to work with anyone who has something to say. It is important to also try to come up with a solution for a problem rather than just letting the same complaint grow any bigger. 

Parkhurst has an suggestion box next to where the dishes are left. This is

a way to provide insight on what could be changed. Whether it’s a complaint or a praise, they are there to listen.

Yet, students need to understand that not every single issue can be solved. There’s a limit to what the school can fix. 

“I think it’s important for students to realize– for students to voice those concerns and continue voicing them– but to realize what’s with the power of the people that they think would be able to make those changes,” Ostendorf said. 

What makes this college great is the trust between students and staff Strengthening that bond will help campus thrive. 

 

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