Many Miami University committees have seats reserved for students, but several have gone unfilled this year. Associated Student Government (ASG) is responsible for advertising and filling the seats, a task Student Body President Jonathan McNabb admits was not adequately executed this year. Many committees have gone scrambling for student members, while many Miami students complain of not having enough say in university policies and practices. The faculty chairs of some committees report even when spots are filled, scheduling issues abound and attendance is sporadic.
The editorial board of The Miami Student believes every vacant student seat on a committee represents a missed opportunity for which ASG, committee chairs and students must take responsibility. We believe student participation in committees is a vital and mutually beneficial element of the relationship between students and the university. Students can provide a unique perspective on many issues and voice concerns that may not occur to faculty. At the same time, student committee members have the opportunity to interact with professionals, build resumes and cultivate interpersonal and leadership skills.
ASG must be more aggressive about advertising and recruiting student members for the committees. While some committees were advertised this year through e-mail list servs and “advertising on campus,” it is clear many potential student committee members were not reached or were not adequately informed about what seats were open and how to apply for them.
This board believes university committees with student seats should be advertised at a Megafair-like event. Pairing interested students with open seats would best be accomplished through a campaign that brings students into direct contact with faculty chairs and past student members. While e-mail is a valuable tool for contacting large numbers of students, a more qualitative approach based on face-to-face contact would likely produce better results.
Committee chairs and current committee members also have a major role to play in the recruitment process. Faculty have direct contact with students on a daily basis. ASG cannot be expected to somehow find and personally approach each interested and qualified candidate for a student seat on a committee. Committee chairs, however, have extensive knowledge of the qualifications needed for their respective committees, as well as easy access to students.
Finally, students should realize the enormous amount they have to gain from serving on a university committee and actively seek out the opportunity to do so. While ASG and committee chairs should do a much better job of publicizing committees, students should take the initiative to join and serve on them. The time commitment for many committees – perhaps an hour or so each week – is something most students can handle. Students should take advantage of the opportunity to serve their university while providing themselves with valuable experience.