Editorial: Student feedback moves CWRU forward

Case Western Reserve University is our home for nine months out of the year. It’s the place where we as students receive a top education from some of the best professors and experts in the humanities, STEM, medicine and law. We as students shouldn’t discount the many amazing opportunities available to us. From a diverse array of student organizations to CWRU’s wonderful research opportunities, there’s much here that students can benefit from.

These opportunities would not be possible without a strong commitment between the student body and the university administration in making CWRU a place that we can all be proud of. And it’s that commitment—that undying striving to make the university the best it can be—that moves CWRU toward a greater future.

We can see this striving in the recent reversal of Leutner and Fribley Commons’ made-to-order policy. Both dining halls implemented this policy in an attempt to ensure that food being served was as fresh as possible—an honest attempt at improving student life. However, many students complained that the policy had the effect of significantly increasing wait times for meals and the sizes of lines. After students reached out to university faculty about their issues with the new service, the dining halls reverted to their original policy.

Here, the university actively listened to its student body. And by actively listening, the experiences of students on campus were made much better. When we as students have our voices represented in the university’s actions and changes, that connection to the university administration grows.

This is what all universities should strive for.

Consider also the switch from the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship (SAGES) to the Unified General Education Requirements (UGER). The SAGES program was intended to provide students with a diverse academic skill set, including research and academic writing. Students who matriculated to CWRU prior to August 2023, who still have to follow these requirements, expressed frustration with the program, especially with regards to the lack of courses being offered. In response, the administration began to adopt the UGER program as an attempt to streamline the process.

Both of these changes show that when the university listens to the student body, great progress can be made. And while there might be flaws with some of the changes that the university makes, they do show a genuine commitment to making this school a better place for students to learn and live.

But we also should address where the university is still lacking in making progress, or even where it explicitly doesn’t listen or seek feedback from students since that affects us all.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, all undergraduate students were informed of an overhaul to the Student Information System’s (SIS) Academic Requirements Report, called Stellic. This notice came as a surprise, as no one except for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) was informed of this change, even being given a full presentation at their most recent General Assembly.

The vast majority of the student body—who rely on SIS to schedule courses and see where they are in making progress towards graduation—was not informed of the overhaul. Instead, the administration rolled out Stellic abruptly, not allowing for any feedback or opinions from the people whom USG is supposed to represent.

This incident is part of a larger issue between the administration and USG, which is frequently informed of university decisions and policies without further communicating with the student body. Transparency is worsened, and as a result the ability for the university to improve is made much more difficult.

There are a plethora of other issues with the university that suffer from a lack of communication. The decision to demolish Yost Hall—which completely ousted the Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics—was made with no input from students. Most egregiously, however, has been the university’s response—or lack thereof—to student organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). In the months since Oct. 7, SJP has been calling upon President Eric Kaler and his administration to seek reconciliation and an acknowledgement of the ever worsening humanitarian crisis, with a death toll nearing 30,000.

Civil discussions should always be encouraged, but to blatantly ignore student feedback and protests for months goes against the principles that CWRU should always strive towards.

No university can be perfect, not even CWRU. There will always be problems that need to be addressed and important changes to be made. Our university is a top school for a reason, and we shouldn’t discount that fact. And if there’s anything that can help move this university toward a better future, it’s an everlasting commitment with input from the student body, making this university the very best it can be. When that happens, we can truly see where CWRU shines the brightest.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

In an effort to promote dialogue and the sharing of ideas, The Observer encourages members of the university community to respectfully voice their comments below. Comments that fail to meet the standards of respect and mutual tolerance will be removed as necessary.
All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *