Originally published Feb. 22, 2014

On Thursday, Grand Valley State University’s Student Senate hosted its first town hall meeting of the year. The senators, together with other students and a few administrators, engaged in thoughtful conversation of diverse opinions and perspectives regarding GVSU’s methods of recognizing donors. The administrators in attendance had the chance to clarify student views by speaking directly with students, and the students were able to communicate their thoughts to an audience capable of making change.

It was a win-win for everyone.

Perhaps more inspiring than the opportunity to appeal to the university powers was the maturity brought by all arguers in the debate.

Even in the highest political arena, participants are known to cave to their emotions and resort to logical fallacies and ad hominem attacks on people with opposing views.

But on Thursday, all in attendance delivered their points with respect and eloquence, and it was a sight that should make any professor proud. Everything they’re teaching us, all the skills we’re acquiring to help build our communities, were put into practice here.

The meeting was a promising sight of the future that GVSU is helping build through its educational contributions. It brings in students and produces truly engaged citizens. Those who witnessed the event should be encouraged. If the upcoming generation of leaders is capable of this sort of civilized yet passionate debate, then we’re looking at pretty good years to come.

The meeting was certainly a point of encouragement not only for the larger communities that students will one day join, but also for theGVSU community.

The initiative that Student Senate has taken to prevent miscommunication between students and administrators and to open a direct channel of conversation is absolutely necessary and hopefully serves as a sign of good things to come for GVSU.

It is neither wise nor productive for administrators to assume they know what students want or for students to assume that they have all the facts to know that what they want is really what they need. The new method of direct communication combats the current system of assumption.

The concept is so appealing that we want to encourage Student Senate to make town hall meetings regular occurrences. The more often the better. Make it a weekly affair. Poll students to determine what topics are of importance to them, and ensure that they have the chance to speak about it.

Many students want to express their thoughts but don’t know how to make sure that they’re heard and taken seriously. The town hall meetings provide them an outlet to give administrators ideas and bounce thoughts back and forth between decision-makers and those who the decisions affect.

This also helps Student Senate accomplish its goal of getting more students involved in what they’re doing at GVSU and become aware of the senate as a whole. The more voices that represent the campus community means more students backing a decision that Student Senate makes — which also helps the senators draft resolutions that they know the campus community supports.

We hope that administrators will take advantage of the opportunity to hear directly from any student with an opinion, rather than letting a few voices represent the many.

Let’s collaborate to build our university community.


Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2014/02/editorial