For many of the VCU community, this has been one of the most eventful semesters to date. We’ve faced controversial administration decisions and security failings to the lightning rod that is national politics and the usual stress associated with an economically unstable world .
But through it all, we have shown the Richmond community, and more recently the nation, that we are a campus in progress. Students have been reactive to administrative responses with stern rebukes when decisions were unpopular and supportive criticism when needed.
In the beginning of the semester, our security services, while strong and supplemented with G4S private security services, were a magnet of concern for students inundated with text alerts. Now, because of actions taken by the university in response to actual events and student perception, VCU Police’s “perceptions of safety” survey reports that 93.9 respondents feel very safe or safe on campus.
When students expressed dissatisfaction with certain dining locations on-campus, along with complaints about service, administrators took the comments into consideration and made changes to services. Even now, dining services is accepting survey responses from students about possibly changing a few restaurants in the University Commons.
The administration’s dedication to students, evident through their responsiveness, has shown us that our voice matters and that we matter.
In this world, there are no constants. Environments change, people change and systems change. Our reactions to those changes, whether positive or negative, make a statement about us. This is your school and although you may not own it, you have stock in its successes or failures. Unpopular decisions must be met with populist uprisings; likewise, popular changes must be supported. Not many schools allow students the soapbox of open forums, comment cards and town halls like VCU does.
Although students have taken advantage of these opportunities, those students represent a slim minority; between the undergraduate and graduate populace of over 30,000 students, our responses could be louder, more visible and more impactful.
Through my position in this medium, I hope that I have shaped my reader’s opinions, spurred student movement and voiced student concerns and criticisms of the administration. I do not aspire to be the voice of anyone but myself, but I do hope that by virtue of articulate expression, I have challenged, however thinly, a campus and an environment that I have in the past derided as being dry and stagnant.
Many unexpected challenges await us in this world of possibilities; I urge those wishing to be an actor, as opposed to an observer, in the course of future events to take the initiative.
With genuinely exciting new administrative initiatives, the birth of new, engaged student organizations and an administration that has been more responsive to the student body than ever before, I look forward to a new year, a new semester and a new opportunity to make our time at VCU real.