Students demand change in an impromptu meeting
Students met and compiled questions for the administration at an impromptu meeting this past Sunday, April 22. This came about as a result of a series of posts on the Community Digest for Civil Discourse, calling for change in several administrative arenas.
Uzoma Orchingwa ’14 was the primary organizer of this initiative. In his first post on the Digest about this subject, he criticized the Student Government Association (SGA) and the College administration for not being responsive to the social climate on campus, especially in terms of racial issues.
Many students posted on the Digest the next day, some criticizing Orchingwa, saying that his post was unfair to those whom he singled out in the post. Others disagreed with his tone but agreed with his attitude toward SGA and the administration. Orchingwa organized a meeting in Diamond 145, encouraging all students interested in beginning a conversation about change to attend.
Thirty-four people came to the meeting, including a number of SGA officers. Residential Life Chair Sam Andler ’12, SGA President-elect Morgan Lingar ’13 and several class and dorm presidents were in attendance.
Many issues were discussed at the meeting, some involving support for diversity on campus. Students noted that there are very few faculty and staff members that belong to a minority and Orchingwa said that, for a class project, he found that many students of color have considered transferring from the College due to the community’s dynamics and that the College has a poor retention rate for students of color. One question that the group agreed to ask the administration was, “Why is Colby’s retention rate for African American students the lowest among elite schools?”
They also discussed the perceived separation between international students and the rest of the student body. This was discussed at length. “I don’t think that we have created a culture that the international or minority [students] want to participate in. How can we, as students, change the culture?” Andler asked.
Another issue brought up was a percieved uneven distribution of funds and other resources to campus programs, specifically to business and economics-related classes. Many of the students present believed that the internship e-mails sent by the Career Center have favored the promotion of business-related fields. Students found this to be a contradiction to a liberal arts education. Sintetos said that while many students felt this way, it would be better to see if, statistically, the e-mails were actually biased toward business internships and jobs.
Lingar said that the cost of attending the College may be the reason why students decide to major in fields that lead to high-paying jobs. “When you know that you are paying so much to go here, you expect that the education will generate similar returns,” she said.
Another overall topic discussed by this group of students was the lack of communication between the administration and the student body. The students felt that they did not know what the administration or SGA are doing at any given time, and that the decision processes need to be more transparent.
Twenty-three students decided to approach College President William “Bro” Adams about their concerns during his open office hours for students on Monday, April 23. They presented Adams with a list of questions, for which they wanted answers. Adams said that he would consult with his colleagues and get back to the students. Orchingwa said that the group would prefer to hold a campus forum on the subject so that all students can hear the answers to their questions and pose any others they might later have.
The group of students chose not to name their group, preferring to keep it an informal organization, so that any student can feel that they can participate. The group hopes to continue its efforts until the end of this school year, and then continue to bring change in the fall semester.