St. Edward’s University is a community of diverse students from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, sexuality and gender identities, and religions. This means that each student comes to the university with a different set of experiences and needs, and different ideas and perspectives. The University boasts that it is one of inclusion and supports all of its students, but the needs of the student population and even those of some faculty are not being met. Students have concerns about campus safety, parking issues, food instability, ever rising tuition rates, campus maintenance, sustainability and more. Their favorite professors are being replaced by younger, fresh faces with less experience and no salary expectations in the name of the bottom line, and students voices are going unheard.
When I started researching for this project, I began by asking my fellow students, and some St. Edward’s faculty members, what they were concerned about around campus. I got a wide range of answers, mostly falling into the categories I listed above. This got me thinking, how do I decide what I want to put my effort into? What were the most important? Why were so many people giving me so many of the same answers?
When I started asking students about whether or not they felt like they could reach out to the University with their concerns, they had mixed answers. However, when I asked if they felt like when the University did hear their complaints, they made real change and a genuine effort to listen to what the students want, it was clear that students felt ignored. I want everyone to have the chance to have their concerns heard, and that is why I have decided to work towards a project that allows students to voice their concerns directly to the university, particularly in a way that holds the university accountable, and produces results.
Moving forward with this project, I want to continue talking to fellow students and faculty members, and gain insight on what people want and how the student population feels this problem will be best solved.