June 26, 2019 | 82° F

EDITORIAL: U. should improve communication

Meeting with student parent group shows possible issues


To little avail, the Rutgers Students With Children (RSWC) organization has been working to advocate for what they see as necessary accommodations for student parents on campus since 2015. Despite numerous prior meetings with members of the University’s administration, their requests seem to continuously fail to be heard. Last Thursday, RSWC had another meeting with the administration with the expectation that this time would be different, considering their recent petition to University President Robert L. Barchi that had been signed by more than 400 people. 

“Speaking frankly, the meeting was disappointing,” Anjanette Vaidya, president and founder of RSWC and a School of Arts and Sciences senior told The Daily Targum.

The person who met with the organization last week was Karen Stubaus, Rutgers’ vice president for Academic Affairs and Administration. Stubaus, Vaidya said, came very unprepared to the meeting and spoke as though she was utterly unfamiliar with RSWC’s requests and worries. 

Considering the aforementioned, two possibilities regarding the administration’s behavior may come to one’s mind. One, the administration’s Division of Student Affairs is lacking in regard to hearing and responding to the worries of all groups within their student body, or two, the administration was aware of but had been blatantly ignoring the worries and requests of RSWC. Neither of these possibilities are preferable. 

In the first possibility, giving Stubaus the benefit of the doubt and assuming she really had no prior knowledge of the organization’s demands as Vaidya said she expressed, this just means that the corresponding divisions of the administration, namely the Division of Student Affairs, had been genuinely missing the continuous advocacy aimed at them on behalf of RSWC. How can the main University division whose job it is to address issues like these have simply not been aware of their calls for accommodation? In that case, it seems as if the administration needs to tighten up their communication with not only more groups within the student body, but within their own ranks. In order to maintain and improve a student's quality of life, you have to know their concerns. 

In the second possibility, considering the fact that even after more than 35 in-person meetings between the group and “Deans, Vice Chancellors and faculty members in various departments, including those charged with non-traditional, academic and student affairs,” RSWC saw minimal addressing of their issues, the University must have been knowingly ignoring them. In a meeting with the Targum, Barchi said he received word of the requests of RSWC in December. It seems odd that after two years and dozens of meetings with his staff, Barchi would have just recently become aware of this group’s worries. In other words, it is possible that after two years of essentially ignoring RSWC, the administration is now covering for itself — with members saying they are just recently hearing of these requests. This is more unsettling than the first possibility, and also seemingly more likely. 

If the first possibility is true, the University must work to improve communication. The Division of Student Affairs cannot do its job properly without hearing and responding to, whether positively or negatively, all of the worries and requests of student groups that are made public. After two years of openly advocating for themselves, RSWC deserves more than a half-hearted attempt at a serious meeting, and we would hope that the same would go for any other group. If the second possibility is the reality, it is clear that the administration’s transparency issues are still present and strong. It means that the University picks and chooses which groups deserve priority attention. At this point both possibilities are speculation, but not far-fetched. And if they are in line with reality, Rutgers’ administration has some embarrassing and unsettling shortcomings. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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