FOUND IN TRANSLATION: USG bridges gap in town hall series

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.45.39 PMAdministrators and average Joes in Loschert have been circling each other like hungry sharks for too long — hopelessly lost in translation, arguing about whether the sky is blue — while USG has sat contentedly in the middle.

Part of it is our fault, and part of it is simply the revolving-door structure of higher education. The spice of campus life rests on the tremendous shift that occurs each May. Just as you start to understand the workings of the place, you’re kicked out and wide-eyed 18-year-olds are shipped in to fill your place. It’s a factory line — a beautiful one, to be sure — that is good for the greater circle of life, but not so great for year-to-year campus communication.

You’ve graduated by the time you realize that, in fact, administrators really do allow students to perform “The Vagina Monologues” — and freshmen are left holding the bag of misled horror stories and deep-seeded scorn.

It’s too late by the time you find out USG really could have helped you.

You’re a senior when you realize that no campus demonstration has ever been denied at Fordham — that is, among the students who first followed school policy and coordinated plans with the Dean of Students. (A relatively small price to pay for what could be a large effort, right?) But undisclosed demonstrations get shut down by Public Safety, and all that remains are crumpled signs and a cold narrative of censorship and disregard for students.

As a result, underclassmen — or those who simply prefer to ignore the facts — often needlessly hold administrators in contempt, or worse, give up.

The myth mill isn’t just frustrating, it’s toxic for everyone, but particularly for the youngest among us. It behooves USG to step up to the plate and use its prime seat between administrators and students to set the record straight and open a productive dialogue that rests on facts and questions, not accusations and he-said-she-saids.

And that’s exactly what they’re trying to do!

USG is hosting a collection of topic-specific town hall meetings this semester, called the Center Stage Series, as a way to round up student concerns and field questions in accordance with Fordham’s policies. The meetings also stand as opportunities for student leaders to help mend the miscommunication problem, and mediate interactions between the student body and administrators.

The first Center Stage meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 23 at 5:30 pm in Campbell Commons (room next to Cosí). The topic of discussion will be free speech on campus — and there will be food.

“The Center Stage Series is based on the idea that students should have a safe forum to voice their concerns and ideas in regard to any topic,” Nevin Kulangara, USG’s president, said in a statement. “While the Internet has provided a place for student to express their frustrations and worries, these concerns often become lost throughout various social media platforms.”

While collecting student concerns is of course important, USG must also use these meetings to foster a two-way dialogue and dispel myths. Knowledge is good, but facts are often better.

This town hall series has serious potential, and props to USG for initiating this. But in order for these meetings to carry any future substance, people need to show up. Impactful campus change starts here. Make your voice heard, and extend a hand so that we might be able to start bridging the gap between the average Joes of Loschert and administrators.

A dark cloud will float over Rose Hill on the day USG finally steps into the same space as its constituents, prepared to embrace and act on legitimate student concerns and questions, only to be met with turned backs and crossed arms. 

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