Brutally Honest: Do students have a voice?

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

Student input and opinion should be highly valued at any institution. Here at Millikin, the faculty thrives on feedback – good and bad. Through personal experience and hearing from other students, faculty will go above and beyond to help and make sure you are prepared for the real world. They are willing to talk and listen, even when it’s not about academics. The student voice matters to them.

However, does the student voice matter to the administration and staff? Many do not believe so – an unfortunate discovery.

Last week, “Brutally Honest” dealt with the question, “Do you love Millikin?”I surveyed numerous students asking if their Millikin experience will generate a long-term fondness for the school. Naturally, answers varied, but what really made me concerned was when one of my sources said they would not encourage people to attend Millikin or get involved on campus. Why? Because they feel that they are constantly being torn down and Student Development is not supporting them.

“I feel like at times it’s more difficult to work with Student Development because it tends to be more personal,” they said. “In the classrooms when you approach faculty, it’s easier to have a discussion with them. However, with Student Development, it’s about people’s lives. It can be aggravating because at times it feels like Student Development is trying to control your lives instead of helping you grow and you have no say in this process.

“When I have gone to certain administrators, I have been constantly brushed off and there is no follow through. With all the changes that have taken place in the past year, I feel students don’t have a voice. When students ask about incidents, we are brushed off and nothing is explained.”

Brushed off? This is news to me. I was not aware that there was so much negativity when it came to the administration, especially Student Development. On a personal experience, I have never been brushed off by an administrator. Not once have I felt unwelcomed or ignored. Are students crossing certain boundaries and snooping around in certain affairs that they shouldn’t? It’s hard to tell.

When I approached Raphaella Prange, dean of Student Development, about how students feel like their voices are not being heard, she said that the student voice is of great importance.

“Students have the right to be inquisitive,” she said. “It is certainly welcomed. To me, that shows activism, degree of interest, ownership and engagement.”

Prange continued on saying that many of departments on campus such as Student Development, Office of the President and Residence Life come together and discuss student concerns. They collaboratively work to ensure that communication is on the same page. When it comes to student input and opinion, Prange encourages students to talk with Student Senate.

“Our Student Senate is certainly developing,” she said. “I encourage students to come out to the open meetings and address their senators. More voices equal a more collective voice. We have a very large senate. From off-campus to inclusivity, these are the best people for students to go to. In the Senate meetings, we talk about concerns and think about legislation that can go to the administration. I think Student Senate is showing a want and desire.”

Due to the fact that Millikin is currently in a transition period, tensions might be high and priorities might be shuffled. However, the student voice should not be pushed aside or buried under politics and financial burden. Prange encourages students to chat with her. The Student Senate encourages students to approach them. There are numerous resources and outlets that can help. If the student voice is being restricted, something needs to be done.