College administrators need language lessons

Students do not speak in educationese

Letter to students from president

On February 20, I formally initiated a campus wide discussion on implementing Shared Governance at LCCC. The LCCC College Council is the campus group suggested to be the Shared Governance body. The Council would engage in collaborative decision-making regarding college-wide issues and formulating recommendations to the Board of Trustees on College policies, strategic planning, resource allocation, and institutional performance evaluation.

Shared Governance affects all members of the campus community and thus, everyone should have voice in the governance process. Student representatives are currently on the LCCC College Council. This survey from ASG is your chance to have input on how to select student representation on the College Council. These representatives will be responsible for participating in deliberation, representing student interests, sharing Council activities with students and gathering student ideas regarding the issues involved. Please take a moment to complete this anonymous survey, found at ….

Your feedback is very important to the success of this effort. Please do not reply to this email; this mailbox is unattended. If you have questions contact a member of ASG.

Rewritten letter by Wingspan

Ever have trouble finding parking in the morning? Think the college's plan not to print class schedules anymore is a bad idea? Want to know more about college policies and give input about them? You probably do, and this shared governance survey can help ensure that happens. On February 20, as your new president, I proposed we change how decisions that affect you are made at Laramie County Community College.

I suggested College Council be the place where we meet and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees about policies, plans, resources and performance. Currently, College Council has student representative from Associated Student Government, but the survey below is your chance to have input on how student representation will be selected. Should some Associated Student Government members also be College Council members? Or should the ASG president along with students elected directly by you, the student body, serve on College Council? Or, finally, should all student representatives be elected by the student body? Student representatives will discuss issues at College Council meetings and then share College Council activities with students and gather their feedback.

The survey can be found at …. Your anonymous feedback is very important to the success of this effort.

"Teach the students you have, not the ones you wish you had,"

Sandy Shugrat

President, Valencia Community College

It's really pretty simple. If the administrators at Laramie County Community College would keep President's Shugart's admonition in mind when trying to communicate with students, they might be surprised with the results.

Recently, LCCC's new president, Dr. Joe Schaffer, sought feedback from students on structuring a shared governance model on our campus.

"Does anyone know what that means? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?"

Mistake No. 1: Asking complicated questions in educationese on a topic few students—let alone employees—understand without providing context.

Worse, the platform the president used to conduct the survey was EaglesEye.

"Except to drop a class in mid-March, has anyone logged on to their EaglesEye account and purposefully checked their inbox? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?"

Mistake No. 2: Using a platform for collecting data that students ignore.

Until the college recruits Mark Zuckerberg and his crew at Facebook to redesign EaglesEye, students simply won't utilize the site.

"When was the last time you browsed EaglesEye? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?"

Mistake No. 3: Assuming students will look for the survey. If for some weird reason you went to your EaglesEye account, the governance survey did not pop up. Rather you had to check your inbox, find the president's email, actually read and understand it and then follow the survey link.

As the Valencia president wisely noted, LCCC cannot gather input from an empty classroom. This had been happening long before President Schaffer took office in January, and Wingspan had written editorials about this issue before he arrived.

College students have motivation

LCCC has passionate students, but we are not engaging them where they are. Wingspan offers two recent examples involving establishing an intramural program and maintaining the climbing rock wall on campus.

In February, ASG reiterated its concern about LCCC intramural sports: The problem with the program is there isn't one.

Each semester, students pay fees included in their price of tuition. According to Misty Heil, ASG treasurer, a certain amount of those fees are allocated to a campus intramural sports program.

So where are all the fees going if LCCC does not have such a program?

Grant Wilson, interim vice president of student services, said the money accumulates each semester and is still waiting to be used.

Since he arrived at LCCC in August, Wilson heard those concerns and said he was determined to take action.

Wilson said the biggest roadblock is the availability of staff to organize an intramural program. Another obstacle is scheduling times to use the physical education facilities around classes and athletics, but he and his colleagues are working toward devising a plan to create a program by fall.

Wilson has been informed of students' concerns through ASG and around the campus from word of mouth, but that raises another issue—there is nowhere for students outside of ASG to voice their opinions and concerns about the program, or rather, lack thereof.

Another example is Tad Roccaro, a radiology student at LCCC, who wrote a letter to the PE department expressing his concerns about the same climbing pattern of the college's rock wall. But the letter was not his first attempt to voice his opinion.

According to his letter, which Wingspan received, he has attempted several times to get the attention of those who have the authority to make some changes regarding the rock wall but said, "Nothing changes, and less and less people come."

After learning of a new class available for Frisbee golf, Roccaro was upset that certain areas of the PE facilities were receiving more attention than others. Roccaro has gone as far as drawing a plan to expand the rock wall that would not take up any more room in the multipurpose gym but has received no response from anyone to whom he has reached out.

Speaking when no one listens; discover better means of communication

Wingspan believes when students are ignored, it discourages them and other students to become involved or speak out.

Not every student is comfortable walking up to the ASG desk and tossing out ideas and concerns about an issue. Some may not even know to contact ASG. Almost always a Wingspan reporter is the only student besides ASG members attending ASG meetings.

ASG is one outlet for students to give input to the administration. How often, however, do those concerns make their way to the trustees? At the March business meeting of the college trustees, the ASG report contained such trivial matters that it cheapened any power ASG had to elevate its true concerns to the board.

However, LCCC students need other ways to have input.

Vice President Wilson said the LCCC Facebook page is a good outlet for students to voice their opinion. He said his office checks the Facebook page frequently for ideas about what needs changing around campus.

While some administrators see the value of social media, apparently the survey on a new governance model didn't make the cut for Facebook.

We agree with ASG treasurer Heil that LCCC's new president is very involved with students and always wants to hear what students think. We have also seen a change with the board and its willingness to listen.

The new governance system will be an improvement for LCCC because students and employees will be directly represented.

But those who are trying to gather input from the students they wished they had must embrace the students they actually have, meet them where they live and speak their language. "Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?"

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