There’s a lot to like about Elon University. There’s also a lot to dislike, as demonstrated by the popularity of Yik Yak and other venues where students are free to vent.
A new task force was created at the beginning of the school year to give students an opportunity to constructively vent. This task force is also acting on students’ complaints to improve Elon.
The Presidential Task Force on Campus Social Climate and Out-of-Class Engagement is working toward making the Elon experience better for everyone here, but it can’t do it alone.
It’s giving students the opportunity to work with the Task Force and by extension, Elon’s senior administration, to improve Elon.
So far, it has offered “idea walls” that serve as spaces for students to write their thoughts on what can or needs to change at Elon, two community town halls and small-group interviews, all meant to help the Task Force gather data on students’ needs.
But this opportunity is meaningless if students don’t take advantage of it. To make Elon better, students need to understand that this is the time to speak up about serious issues at Elon and, most importantly, to be heard.
We have the administration’s attention: We need to use it effectively.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands this, as seen on the idea walls. Some students made valid suggestions and expressed real concerns regarding things such as limited dining hours and options for weekend activities.
But others wrote that certain administrators should be fired and that certain populations of campus should be removed. One contributor requested a bar that didn’t allow freshmen.
There’s a place for jokes. A venue that is meant to give students a say in how their campus changes is not one of them. Making useless comments there is immature and a waste of everyone’s time.
There’s a difference between complaining and identifying parts of our campus that aren’t great and that can be fixed. The former doesn’t do anything for anyone, except maybe to serve as a sort of catharsis. The latter contributes toward making positive change happen.
The Task Force needs this kind of information. It needs to know what they can change and what it can make progress toward improving. It needs to know what students don’t like or want, but it also needs to know what kinds of solutions students need.
The Task Force is doing what it can. But it can’t gather the data it needs without help from us, the students — who, coincidentally, are the very people this Task Force is intended to help.
The Task Force is asking what students want. It’s an effort by the administration to fix the (many) things students find to complain about. The Task Force can only work to fix things it knows about. Students who don’t speak up about what could be changed to improve their college experiences can’t expect things to get better.
The Task Force’s next major effort takes the form of a voluntary survey, which was distributed to all undergraduates Monday.
This survey, according to Jon Dooley, assistant vice president for student life and a co-chair of the Task Force, is the best opportunity for all students to contribute to efforts to change Elon for the better.
And this change can happen as soon as next semester. “There are some early pieces of feedback that we got from students that the university will begin to act on next semester,” Dooley said.
This is an opportunity to suggest ways social life and out-of-class experiences at Elon can change. It’s a chance to point out problem areas on campus that the members of the Task Force may not be aware of, or to remind them of things that still need to be fixed. It’s an opportunity for constructive criticism, not whining.
In their Nov. 4 letter to the editor, Task Force co-chairs Naeemah Clark, associate professor of communications, and Dooley wrote, “Take the first step in helping us help you create your life story.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.