There is no doubt that the road ahead is uncertain and it is foolish to think that the future is anything but, a reality that is made clearer and clearer each day given the economic times in which we live. But even beyond the prevailing economic trends, USM’s primary pool of prospective students is shrinking due to a decrease in Maine’s high school graduation rates. Economic trends, adverse shifts in demographics and a diminishing “supply,” if you will, of students coming to the university, are all things we already know.
The more pressing issue is how our university is operating on the inside, apart from these external factors. A look at the past few years reveal a trend of nasty adversarial conflict. Administrators, faculty and students – we are all guilty of this. We are all guilty of picking sides when really we should all be on the same side – the university’s.
The administration is not the university; the faculty aren’t the university; the students aren’t the university; we are all a part of the body which is the university. Albeit we have different roles that we play in this body politik, but what are admin, faculty and students if they don’t work together?
With that said, where are the students? Yes we’re good at making a scene, but we haven’t been very good at getting ourselves to the table. As I have often said, why are students, who are a vital part of the discussion, left out such important conversations?
As students, we need to tread lightly in how we approach the table. We can’t make a scene and then expect to be treated as reasonable adults able to contribute to the discussion.
Students have a rare opportunity, in uncertain times like these, to not only voice their opinions but to also be heard. The times have afforded us this opportunity because uncertainty isn’t what divides us, but it can unite us. I encourage students to take a look at the administrations Direction Package, to speak to the faculty about their issues and concerns, and to join Student Body President Kelsea Dunham and I in helping the university create a shared vision for our university.
With that said, there are several opportunities open to students to get involved in the conversation. Kelsea Dunham is in the midst of planning the first Student Vision conference, which is to be held within the first few weeks of November. Why a vision conference? Because we as students have something valuable to offer administrators and faculty: perspective. The second thing to keep an eye out for is the recent announcement by President Kalikow to create a new committee made up of faculty, staff and students. This committee will be responsible for reviewing relevant materials and making recommendations directly to the president. Bottom line? If you’re not being heard, speak louder and get involved!
Marpheen Chann is student body Vice-President, chair of the College Democrats and a senior political science major.