Communication and Transparency on Campus: Progress Is Slow, Thus It Goes Unnoticed

Over the past few semesters, regarding activities and services on campus, there has been vocal discontent towards changes being made, or the seeming lack thereof. I can assuredly say that change does happen on campus, and plans are already in motion for years down the line; however, its impact often goes unnoticed, not for the want of trying. The College needs to better communicate, even in smaller ways, some of the progress made or plans being discussed, while we as students need to take initiative to see that change enacted.

After having been involved in Bandersnatch since I was a freshman, I started representing the club at our student Congress, signed up for two different committees, and have coordinated some of the behind-the-scenes in order to get the newspaper published. It can sometimes seem like nothing is happening around campus or behind closed doors, but there are actually complex inner workings behind every action.

Bear in mind, the point of this article is not to talk about the integrity and righteousness of the College or the student body’s actions, but rather to discuss the lack of publicity for those actions.

In recent history, the Student Union of John Abbott College (SUJAC) has been targeted on social media, questioning their integrity. We received a few letters from concerned students on campus regarding the long-term impact on their student career from their programs and program coordinators, and we will try to take a closer look. From anyone who closely followed the clubroom renovations, it was and still somewhat continues to be problematic.

Remember the snow day? Still annoyed at the Wi-Fi situation? In case you were wondering, during one of the Congress meetings, we were provided a thorough and technical response to many of our questions. As it turns out, the College did have a full explanation for the snow day and has been actively working towards improving the Wi-Fi around campus, except there was (to my knowledge) no way, as a regular student, of readily acquiring this information. The answers were available, but we had to reach out and ask the right people to obtain an answer; although, finding and going about asking the people who can provide us with these answers is not always clear.

It is certainly not the College’s intention to be malicious, but it does appear to be that there is often a disconnect between students and staff. When students are left uninformed about some of the institution’s decisions, the tendency is to immediately assume the worst. Those attending the past Congress meetings could probably agree that the aforementioned decision about snow days and progress on Wi-Fi were reasonable given the additional provided context.

Knowing our concerns were being addressed and investigated is incredibly relieving. In general, governing bodies, especially student bodies, are perceived as simply not caring enough about the general populace. The tiniest response is always welcome, if at the very least to appease our concerns. That way, we know that our voices are being heard, even if they are of a lower priority at this instant.

To you, dear students: while I have been saying the College could do better at communicating their actions and progress on issues that affect the student body, communication is a two-way street. You may know what is plaguing your student experience, but others may not be entirely aware about the situation. People are only human, and there is the possibility it may get lost down the corporate ladder.

As such, do not expect things to happen miraculously: take ownership of your issue, and confront it directly. Tons of amazing services are available on campus if only you reach out. While it may be much simpler to remain anonymous on JAC Secrets, in your social cliques. or on social media, complaining about it will not accomplish anything. Be the change you would like to see, rather than passively complaining. If you really cared, then you would be doing something already; no amount of communication would be useful if you remain ignorant and indifferent to it.

Maxim Vitale

Originally Published in Vol. 47 Issue 9 on February 21st, 2018. 

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