Taking Student Involvement Seriously

In Jan. 11, 2010, a mere two weeks into her presidency, Waded Cruzado announced the creation of “Monday Morning Memos.” This year, it would seem that the reign of the memos has ended as Cruzado celebrates the third anniversary of her fall inauguration ceremony.

Though the memos were easily mocked and often quickly erased from inboxes, their existence marked an important initiative taken by Cruzado to interact with the university community. The memos provided a glimpse into what the administration was thinking about on a week-to-week basis, even if that glimpse was painted in a way that showed only university successes and not the decision-making process behind administrative action. Replacing the memos, Cruzado has said that this semester she will “explore other methods of communication.”

However, seeking student engagement and interaction doesn’t seem to be as easy as sending weekly emails or even holding public meetings, and attempts to do so often fall on deaf ears.

This was illustrated Wednesday morning at President Cruzado’s, “State of the University” address. Despite MSU having an estimated student enrollment of over 15,000, only a handful of students showed up to listen to Cruzado discuss MSU’s past and path forward. Similarly, every week ASMSU student senators debate and declare student support for initiatives in a public meeting, but often in front of an all-but-empty crowd.

Looking from an outside perspective, it would seem that students are generally apathetic about things happening on our campus. Of course, that isn’t true. Being invested in the university is much more than talking to the administration and showing up at meetings, and MSU students are very good at being involved in other ways.

However, because of the appearance of student apathy, the student voice is too often silent on issues of administrative concern, and the administration has little incentive to seek out anything beyond token representation. Perhaps on some levels it is a mark of success for the university to have students content enough in their position that they don’t feel a need to speak out or speak up against university policy. But there lies an immense danger in being so taken in our own private affairs that we ignore or disregard the political action taken in our name.

After all, political action in the name of students’ best interests is taken on a daily basis by different sectors of the university. From parking spots to tuition costs, funding appropriations and dorm construction, matters concerning over 15,000 students are handled daily by a select few.

In order to have student voices heard, we must be willing to provide and demand participation in these topics beyond just token representation. In the end, making this university yours means more than attending a football game, an ASMSU program, or any other event aimed at only achieving engagement for the sake of engagement. It means investing the time and energy to utilize the university’s untapped resources, it means actually caring about what decisions are being made for you, taking initiative to be heard, and demanding the same of your peers around you.