Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In response to your Student Life concerns...

Despite it being the end of the year, Senate is still actively chugging along on a new project that will continue over the summer and into next year. For the time being, these are the conclusions we have come to:

One concern that many students share is that the student relationship with Student Life is not meeting either parties standards.  This has been an ongoing issue, and this relationship is a complicated one.  Senate was approached by a small group of students about improving this relationship, and Senate approached Student Life with the following statement and after a meeting with Student Life, the following statement was given in response.

Student Senate, working with student concerns, invites Student Life to an open dialogue moving toward clarity of procedures and priorities.

Student Life recognizes current concerns expressed by students directly and through facilitated conversation by Student Senate and is willing to engage in open dialogue in an effort to: 1) hear and clarify student concerns, 2) offer clarification of procedures and priorities, and 3) improve the relationship with concerned students through increased trust, communication, understanding, and shared goals for students at Bethel College.

As a first step to hear and clarify student concerns, Monday evening Student Senate hosted a time of conversation with a broad representation of students about these issues.  There was a variety of perspectives, and points of concern about both the student perspective and attitude toward Student Life and the disciplinary procedures were discussed.

There was documentation of these points of concern and in an effort to formalize other concerns, there is a form available if someone has a grievance they would like to share.  These will be used in conversation with Student Life about what should be clarified and communicated more effectively.
The school year is coming to an end, and we all have finals and final papers to be getting on with, yours truly included.  However, working with the concerns shared, a variety of students representing different perspectives on campus will work with Student Senate and Student Life over the summer about ways to build a more collaborative relationship.  

Some focus will be given to the handbook and specific disciplinary procedures for clarification.
Students will be provided with a hard copy of the Student Handbook at the beginning of the school year.
There will be a meeting at the beginning of next year to specifically handle clarification of the Handbook.  Also at this meeting we hope to help students understand the priorities of Student Life in general as well as how those priorities apply to specific procedures.
We will work to create ways of formal and informal conversation within the disciplinary procedures.

As this work progresses over the summer Student Senate will keep students updated through email.  Also, at the beginning of the new school year there will be additional goals, which will arise from more in depth conversation with Student Life.
--Naomi Graber
Vice President

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