Challenges to SLU, from an outgoing senior

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Challenges to SLU, from an outgoing senior

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As I enter my final few weeks of college, I’ve been reflecting on my SLU experience. Over the past eight semesters, there have been many times when this university has exceeded my expectations. Yet, there have also been times where I’ve been disappointed or frustrated with how specific aspects of SLU operate. I am someone who doesn’t believe in just complaining or letting the status quo continue without saying a word. I’d like to use this space not to list my problems with SLU, but to challenge SLU. My challenge is four-fold.

First, I challenge the administration to be more transparent in both its decision-making and budgetary processes. As a private university, SLU is given much discretion in disclosing such matters. Though, the administration can build trust with being more open and transparent. When major campus decisions are made, I’d like to see more voices and faces involved. This means more diverse hiring committees and increased outreach on financial issues.

When undertaking major financial commitments, I believe further explanation on funding and implementation is needed. I think both proponents and skeptics of the Clock Tower Accords would like to see more updates on their status and funding. Especially, in the midst of the current budget situation, transparency is needed. What I’d like to see is more details provided on how projects are funded. For example, there is talk of renovating the men’s basketball locker room. Some may see that as an unnecessary expensive given the current budget. In this case, transparency would mean explaining the need for such a project, explaining where its funds came from (whether from a specific budget or from donors) and how the project will benefit the whole SLU community.

Secondly, I challenge conservative students and those with free-market principles to speak up more often and offer a voice that fits SLU’s mission for social justice. Most college campuses are hot beds for liberalism, and nearly all professors lean left. There’s nothing wrong with being a liberal, but conservative students should speak up, so their voices are heard just as often. During my time here, discussions around social justice issues have often revolved around liberal and progressive policies and solutions. Free-enterprise and conservatism are ripe with meaningful solutions to these problems.

I suggest the College Republicans or the Great Issues Committee invite Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institution to speak on campus. Brooks, a conservative think-tank president, has dedicated his career to discussing a conservative vision for social justice. His vision is one that fits SLU’s mission, and would be beneficial for this campus to hear.

Thirdly, I challenge SGA to become relevant again. To be frank, it’s currently an absolute joke. SGA senators recently admitted their body isn’t “efficient,” and former senators have discussed how SGA has lost the ear of students. It’s hard for me to think of one significant action SGA undertook during my time at SLU, or of one action that had full student support behind it. Because it’s been so removed from students like me, I don’t even know how to suggest SGA find its footing. I know it should include many internal discussions, as well as outreach to the student body. I challenge students frustrated with SGA to run for its offices.

That last sentence fits into my fourth point. It is for SLU students to become more engaged in the matters that affect campus life and administration. SLU students are engaged so well, both in the community and in their academics, but seem to fall short when it comes to campus business. Many are unaware of the current budget shortfall and some don’t even know what the Clock Tower Accords are. It’s hard to be too judgmental on SGA when many students are quite apathetic themselves. Campus synergy can only improve with a more engaged student body. I am always frustrated when I see students attend the pre-game parties before basketball games for the free food or shirt and then leave before the game begins. It shows a total lack of effort for campus engagement. The SLU administration can only succeed with student buy-in. After all, most of us pay a lot to go here so we should care about what goes on.

With all that said, I should note that SLU is full of amazing and talented students who excel in the classroom, in their co-curriculars and in the community. The same goes for Dr. Pestello, his administration, and the faculty and staff.  My challenges are intended to critique, but also to move towards a better SLU.

While I’ve offered my four challenges, I want to list two things I hope never change at SLU. One is Dr. Pestello’s enthusiasm for this university and his outreach to all corners of campus. The second is the genuine dedication to students from professors, instructors and staff.

Thanks for a great four years, SLU.