In recent years, Emory has looked for ways to improve student interaction
with the faculty and other facets of the University. The administration
is currently examining the idea of introducing a residential collegewhere
students and faculty would live togetheras the primary way to bring
these two levels of Emory together.
While the idea of residential colleges is a noble one, we must first take
several steps before we reach the point where we are ready for faculty
and students to live together. The faculty and staff must attend our student
meetings, must help us in our planning of events, and lastly, must sign
on to our growing online community.
If Emory just converts to a residential college where faculty and students
live together, yet do not know how to interact with one another, then
it will be a fruitless effort and one bound to fail.
Before moving Emory another inch toward a residential college system,
I would like to challenge the faculty, staff and administrators to build
closer relations with students. My first challenge is that all professors,
administrators and staff attend at least three student-run events a semester.
I challenge them to come to our meetings and test us beyond the classroom
In doing this, they as faculty members may feel awkward, but every great
initiative requires a first step. Every club on campus has a faculty or
staff advisor, yet they rarely do anything with the organizations they
are supposed to advise. If faculty and staff begin attending student-run
meetings now, then in future yearswhen we do have a residential
college systemstudents wont feel so awkward seeing faculty
outside of a classroom.
During College Councils Halloween Carnival, the vendor who worked
with us was struck by the fact that only a few administrators turned out
for this event. While I thought this was the norm, he commented that at
most schools with which he did programming, the staff and faculty came
out to student events regularly. To be honest, Ive seen John the
Pasta Guy from our beloved Dobbs Center Food Court at more student events
on this campus than the highest administrators and professors.
My next challenge is that faculty and staff not only attend the meetings,
but also help us plan and organize our events. I especially think that
volunteer and community service should be coordinated together between
students, faculty and staff. I cannot think of a better image than of
the top administrators and the top student leaders doing a community-service
event together to benefit the Atlanta community.
What better way to prove to Atlanta that Emory is not a self-serving kingdom
of snobs than to volunteer and organizenot separately, but together
as a community of faculty, staff, administrators and students? If the
University accepts this challenge, organizing events under the residential
college system will be a lot easier because students and faculty will
have experience working with one another.
Another challenge to the faculty and staff here at Emory is to become
involved in our growing online community. In just the past few years,
LearnLink has become a part of most students daily lives.There are
hundreds of conferences ranging in everything from political debate to
Anime. If professors and staff become involved and grow with the students
in this online community, relations would become closer.
Many administrators and professors lament what they see as the lack of
debate within the Emory community and the seemingly sheepish student body.
Within a classroom setting, most students may seem to cling to conformity,
but it is in these online conferences where debate and intellectual conversations
come alive. Though in the past, debate might have been held primarily
in forums and classrooms, in todays America, professors and staff
have to realize that ideas and intellectual conversations now are found
If professors and staff do not embrace LearnLink and the online community,
they can never fully relate to the student body, engage in constructive
debate and see that there is indeed an academic atmosphere at Emory. While
these online communities are full of intellectual conversations, many
people post ideas without the facts and knowledge to back them up. A professor
on any of those conferences can provide that knowledge and wisdom.
My last challenge is that professors and staff simply use the resources
available. I ask that professors invite students out to lunch, be willing
to be good advisors and encourage students to come to office hours. Often
students feel alone when looking for classes or selecting majors. Our
basis, as students, for choosing classes next semester is largely word
of mouth from fellow students.
These ideas, while not simple, are a few steps we must take before we
can switch to a residential college system. As of now, the idea of an
Emory community is simply false, because students and faculty live and
work on different levels. While we all want to change this, we cannot
support or accept a residential college system until there is a foundation
These steps and challenges are the foundations for that type of system.
To truly become a community and adopt the residential college system,
we must embrace each other beyond the classrooms and academic buildings,
but within each others confines.
first appeared in The Emory Wheel.