Sarah Blugis: There are better ways to engage with students than hoagies and karaoke

Media Credit: Screenshot of the canceled event.

Sarah Blugis, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.

It’s safe to say that not many students care about a night of hoagies and karaoke – especially when University big wigs are in attendance.

Screenshot of the canceled event.
Screenshot of the canceled event.

That kind of student outreach event, to be hosted by the new Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Vinson this week, was canceled due to low sign-up numbers.

That might leave administrators wondering whether it’s worth it to try connecting with students. Maybe students don’t want to interact with administrators, some might say.

But that’s not the right way to think about it. The event wasn’t cancelled because students aren’t interested in meeting with the dean. It was cancelled because administrators’ attempts to connect are too juvenile.

Hoagies and karaoke sounds like an event at a middle school. It’s even worse than “Pancakes with the Provost” – which also isn’t something to brag about. But at least that event provides free breakfast to otherwise overlooked Mount Vernon Campus residents and gives students a reason beyond black box performances to visit the Vern.

Most students don’t want to be friends with administrators. Rather, we want to converse with them sometimes to express a grievance or offer a suggestion. We want to give them a peak into our student experience.

But these events make our interactions with school deans feel like a counselor-camper relationship. The solution is to make our administration more accessible on a one-on-one basis.

Expanding office hours – by offering them more regularly throughout the year and expanding them beyond University President Steven Knapp’s office – would be a great way for students to have meaningful interactions with leaders.

Students would be able to voice concerns formally — not while someone else sings karaoke in the background. Students’ ideas would be heard and GW officials could be more closely held accountable. The idea has been received well in the GW Law School in recent years, for example, but should expand to more colleges across the University.

Of course, administrators can successfully interact with the student body simply by participating in student life. Coming to important sports games or attending various plays and musicals. GW is technically a medium-sized school, but it sometimes feels like a massive state university because most administrators are faceless to the average student.

When we say that we want our administration to be involved, we don’t mean that they should try to host silly events. We want them to treat us like adults and listen properly to what we have to say. They should show us that they care about the activities we engage in every day instead of trying to create awkward ones of their own.

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