Semester highlights prove student voice has impact
The winter season is upon us and so concludes another semester “On the Banks of the Old Raritan.” These past few months have been fraught with exciting changes for our university. The integration of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and our acceptance into the Big Ten athletic conference has opened a door of new possibilities for research and involvement. The Rutgers University Student Assembly, our student government, has been hard at work to ensure these new opportunities are serving the students’ best interests and is accessible to all.
With the appointment of our new Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs Felicia E. McGinty, students have a newfound ally that works on our behalf to ensure the administration works for what the students feel is important. Every Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., McGinty hosts open office hours to give students an opportunity to directly voice their concerns.
At the beginning of this semester, there was an uproar about the unilateral changes made to the hours of operation of our dining halls. By working with Rutgers Dining Services, we were able to negotiate back the original hours without cuts to service or quality — a bold example of what students can accomplish when working toward a common goal. Delta Upsilon was this semester’s recipient of the Meal Swipes for Charity Program. The collaboration of Dining Services and RUSA raised money through donated meal swipes for a charitable organization of their choosing.
Student groups on campus come to RUSA and work with us to resolve their issues on campus. After being approached by Trans*mission, a student group that works on behalf of transgendered students on campus, RUSA advocated on instituting a policy change that would allow any student to have their preferred name be displayed on Sakai.
RUSA’s potential is only limited by our ability to identify student concerns. Our annual “What’s on Your Mind Survey” garnered more than 2000 responses and will set the stage for the projects we undertake to improve the quality of life for our fellow Rutgers Students. Students responded with issues ranging from the quality of their courses to proposed changes in bus routes. As always, RUSA hosts office hours from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday and Friday on the fourth floor of the Rutgers Student Center to hear feedback about our university and gain a better sense on what to change.
I adamantly believe that we as students, the primary stakeholders of the University, have a rare opportunity to shape Rutgers into the university we want to see. By coming together and working towards shared goals and ideals, students historically have been able to overcome any and all obstacles. Do not sit back idly and accept the status quo. Voice your concerns and take action to improve our university, not just for yourselves but for all current and future students. Best of luck on finals, and have a productive winter break.
Pavel Sokolov is a Rutgers Business School senior and president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly.