Students Offer Solution to Improve Communication on Campus

By Sam Phillips

Students had a chance to voice their opinions on the campus climate survey results at an open forum on Wednesday in McKay Auditorium.

Tyler Miller-Gordon and Gabriella Gessler, president and vice president of Student Government Association, moderated the discussion and encouraged students to offer solutions to problems identified by the survey.

Gessler reminded the group that the university is going through the accreditation process next year, and the results could depend on the response to the survey.

YSU student Jacob Schriner-Briggs pointed to a suggestion made by Adam Earnheardt, chair of the department of communication, at an academic senate meeting — to have an outside source carry out a communication audit at the university. An open line of communication between senior administration and faculty and staff is needed, he said.

“When senior administration has to make a change by law, they should let faculty know how they’ll help instead of telling them what to do and when,” he said.

SGA representative Kelly Matanin said faculty and staff should feel like their suggestions are welcome and not be afraid to approach senior administration.

Many faculty members have expressed concerns over athletic spending. Accounting Chair Peter Woodlock audited the university’s finances in 2013, and found the university spends more on athletics than peer institutions.

Students at the forum suggested that athletic spending should be evaluated as carefully as academic spending and discussed having every department collect data to justify expenditures.

Matanin addressed another concern — that faculty and staff who leave or retire are not being replaced. She said senior administration should explain why positions aren’t being renewed and consider renewing them if the affected department can provide evidence that the position is necessary.

The group decided that top-down management isn’t working. Senior administration should involve faculty and staff in the decision-making process to improve their relationship and build trust, the group said.

But they acknowledged that always making decisions as a group could slow down the administrative process.

Creating new positions and hiring staff should involve current faculty and staff, Schriner-Briggs said. They cited the appointment of Provost Martin Abraham, who did not apply for the position or go through the search process.

The main solution that the students came up with was to hold a town hall or open forum once or twice a month with representatives of each college in attendance.

This would facilitate discussion between senior administration, faculty and students improving morale and preventing dissatisfaction.

Echoing a comment made by faculty during an earlier open forum, Matanin said she would like to hear what the university’s goals are for each year, so students, faculty and staff can offer solutions and gauge the progress they are making. She said new staff and students should be invited, because they can offer new ideas and a fresh perspective.