It’s hard to make resolutions sometimes, and it’s hard to keep them. But a good resolution can be really beneficial, not only for the person making it also for the people surrounding them. A resolution to volunteer more, or a resolution to talk more to your friends can change a person’s outlook and affect the community they live in.
Which is why I think it’s important for some groups on the U of R campus – members of the U of R community – to make New Year’s resolutions, too. We’ve got a community on campus, and it could use some positive changes. So here’s some suggestions for members of that community to help make those changes:
The U of R administration – Remember what a university is
President Vianne Timmons has spent her tenure receiving accolades and working to make the U of R a nationally-recognized brand; under her leadership, the U of R has developed a number of initiatives and slogans unique to the school, like the UR Guarantee and the Realize campaign. And that’s not a bad thing; it means the U of R is concerned about being a visible and active part of the community. But its new image is based on things that don’t actually have anything to do with what will happen at the university. The Realize campaign is based on the potential once you get your degree; the UR Guarantee is a guarantee that goes into effect once you’ve convocated.
For 2011, the U of R could do worse than to start focusing on the things that make universities notable: not just amenities or atmosphere or ancillary programs, but academic policies that generate really standout graduates. Work with professors and departments to make sure that what they’re focusing on isn’t efficiency or numbers but actual academic output, and make sure that the professors are actually interested in their students learning the content. Students are your focus group; listen to their concerns.
The U of R Students’ Union – Walk your talk
This year, URSU’s main focus has been accountability. They want the students of the U of R to feel that their interests are represented, and they want to seem approachable in case students feel otherwise. This is a fairly noble pursuit, and although it should be something that our politicians should convey without having to state that they’re actually pursuing, it’s still pretty good that they acknowledge it’s something they need to do.
But they do need to work on it a lot harder. The blogs on their website have been updated, but the updates have been sporadic and not as focused on on-campus work as they could be. Meanwhile, the organization needed prodding to follow constitutional requirements and post its minutes online, and things like its financial reports, which have been posted online, have gone up with nary a tweet. All it takes to live up to your promises of accountability and transparency is a little work, folks; put that work in and you’ll make at least a little headway with your detractors.
The U of R students – Stay active
Watching students turn out to protests this year – whether it was over the government’s prorogation or FNUniv’s withdrawn funding – was heartening, as was the intensity around the CFS referendum. Students got opinionated and weren’t afraid to actually express their opinions or talk about them in public. It was great to see.
But change takes a while to happen, and for things to improve they need our long-term attention. The U of R community faces challenges and issues every year, and 2011 won’t be any different. And the time to care isn’t coming – it’s now. There’s plenty of things that you can get involved with on campus that can make a difference, made up of people who likely share at least some of your views. Work with those people to make sure that the community is ready to stand up and actually make itself heard on issues that matter – things like rising tuition and scarce housing. These things will get worse, and we need to do more than gripe about it. We need to get involved with groups that will actually alleviate these problems, groups that will make a change. They can’t do as much if they don’t have the numbers. It’s up to you.