Forums have small student attendance

Amadeus Smith

The student forums held for the four senior vice president of academic affairs and provost candidates saw little to no student participation.

Five of the six students who attended the functions were from larger university organizations such as Undergraduate Student Senate, Graduate Student Senate and Black United Students.

Preston Mitchum, USS senator for academic affairs, said student involvement was meager because most students don’t think they have a role in administrative decisions.

But many students who didn’t attend the forums said they had never even heard of the position or the scheduled events.

“I didn’t go because I didn’t know about any of the meetings or what the provost does,” sophomore Leanne Geitner said. “Plus, I’m an architecture major so I’m pretty much a hermit.”

Jim Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information, also said students may not feel connected with the provost.

“Remembering a time when I was a student, I may have thought the provost was far enough removed that it didn’t have an effect on my daily life,” said Gaudino, who also chairs the provost search committee. “I now know that that is not true.”

Shanelle Smith, president of Kent State’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, agreed participation was down because of an uninformed student body.

“Students don’t understand the importance of the provost or the job of the provost,” she said.

April Samuelson, junior public relations major, didn’t know the provost’s role when she attended the forum for Elizabeth Langland last Friday. She said she went because she felt bad about the low attendance numbers for the previous two candidates.

However, Samuelson said it may be a lack of advertising that led to low numbers.

“The schedule of events was really hard to find on the provost Web site,” she said.

Gaudino said he asked USS and GSS to make announcements about the candidates’ visits. He said he didn’t doubt the groups’ work but didn’t know how much it was publicized.

Mitchum said he made numerous announcements about the forums, such as posting messages on his USS Web site as well as announcing it on the student leader listserv. He also made a few announcements in classes.

“I felt like I was making them come,” Mitchum said. “Unless you have a prior commitment, like a meeting or class, it (not attending) is unacceptable.”

Edward Moreira, executive chair for GSS, said time constraints may have been another factor.

Moreira said GSS didn’t get to have its monthly general meeting between the announcement of the candidate visits and their actual visits. Instead, the announcements were made via e-mail, which, Moreira said, wasn’t the best medium for the job.

Other students said although they knew about the provost’s role and the meetings, they couldn’t make time to participate.

“I had class,” said Zachary Svette, senior recreation management major. “Giving one chance (to meet the provost candidates) in the middle of the day is not enough of a chance for the provost to meet all the people.”

Out of the six total students who attended the meetings, Mitchum and Suky Medina-Day, information services chair for GSS, were the only ones to show up to more than one.

And no students attended the last forums for Walter Harris Jr.

“I would have hoped there was more student involvement,” Gaudino said.

Contact general assignment reporter Amadeus Smith at [email protected].

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