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Bridging the divide: Student Advisory Boards

With the gradual disappearance of the Student Association on the Queens College (QC) campus, it’s imperative that now, more than ever, students remain connected to the administration. After all, if students are going to proceed through semesters of rigorous coursework, it’s only fair that there be an open line of communication between students, the faculty and the administration. One solution may be the creation and implementation of student advisory boards. 

Student advisory boards are a focus group, composed of several students that actively provide input to college administrators about emerging trends on campus, issues their peers encounter whilst taking classes, and how the College can improve itself. QC currently lacks a system such as this one, but it’s no question that when leaders & administrators listen to their constituents, improvements can always be made. 

Interim Dean for the School of Education, Dana Fusco, spoke to The Knight News about how students are present on administrative committees within her school. “I have student advisors already on a variety of committees in the School of Education,” Fusco commented. “It is critical to have student input when making certain decisions that ultimately impact them directly.” 

William McClure, Dean for the School of Arts and Humanities, agreed. “I would support this wholeheartedly. I interact with very few students in my position as dean, and usually only when something has gone very badly for them, e.g. as part of an appeal or some other issue like that. It would be a good thing to have a forum that is positive and constructive.” said McClure. Also in agreement was Dean for Math and Natural Sciences, Daniel Weinstein. He elaborated that “[he is] open to discussion on how best to formalize this relationship [between the student body and administration], whether it be through school-specific student advisory boards or via some other appropriate mechanism.”

Associate Dean for the Library, Kristin Hart, was enthusiastic when asked about implementing student advisory boards. She shared some upcoming plans that the library has in store. “The library has been planning to implement its own student advisory board as a way to learn more about ways we can better support students (and to perhaps help our colleagues assess other support services on campus like tutoring etc.)” said Hart. 

While student advisory boards are a surefire way to improve student life and the quality of education on campus, there are some challenges. One that is often expressed is, what’s the method of selection for students to serve on these advisory boards? A simple way of selecting students is listening to recommendations from faculty members and students themselves, about who is particularly active in their communities. A common contention held by members of a campus community is that progress seems to get delayed amidst the complexity and bureaucracy of college administration. A key way of avoiding this would be to encourage student advisory boards to publish reports on a monthly basis, to let the community know what issues are being addressed.

Student advisory boards, if implemented, can help to bridge the divide between the administration at QC and the student body. The implementation of these boards can foster a climate of positivity amidst the constructive feedback that students are expected to present. Hopefully the collaboration between students and faculty will help to foster a newfound relationship that benefits both parties.

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