Editorial: BJU should add forum for students’ feedback

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Editorial: BJU should add forum for students’ feedback

Students should take advantage of the channels they have to communicate their suggestions to the Bob Jones University administration.

Currently, BJU offers several channels for students to make recommendations. For example, students can talk to or email President Steve Pettit, Chief of Staff Randy Page or a vice president overseeing an area relevant to the suggestion.

Pettit also allows students to schedule meals with him in the dining common or talk to him as he walks across campus.

Additionally, students can talk to their peer leaders in the residence halls or campus organizations. These student leaders often have contacts who can pass the suggestions along to the people in charge.

Students should also take the time to respond to the surveys BJU administers and give the administration valuable feedback on important topics.

Although these outlets are valuable ways for students to communicate with leadership, adding an additional channel could improve the existing system.

In 2016, the administration recognized the need for this additional channel and created USpeak, a platform for students to anonymously make suggestions, raise concerns or provide encouragement. Members of the Student Leadership Council passed along this feedback to Pettit and Dr. Eric Newton, the dean of students at the time.

USpeak received thousands of responses during its first semester, resulting in changes such as adding the current electronic locks to rooms in the residence halls and ending the practice of cutting off campus wi-fi at night. Unfortunately, USpeak was discontinued a couple of years ago. Though the administration had good reasons, the loss of USpeak resulted in students not having a direct route to share their views with the administration. Reinstating USpeak or coming up with an alternative would be a positive step for improving communication on campus.

When students are easily able to share their thoughts with the administration, they will feel that their concerns are valued and their opinions are respected. As a result, they will become more invested in the mission of the University.

Additionally, an anonymous forum allows students to provide valuable ideas the administration may want to implement. As King Solomon pointed out, collecting input from many sources when solving problems is valuable. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established” (Prov. 15:22).

Sometimes, fresh perspectives are needed to point out issues those involved in the decision-making process have not considered. Generational and cultural differences between the administration and student body also increase the need for input from the people new policies will affect.

Relying on suggestions to be passed up the chain of command from a student to a residence hall assistant to a student life worker to a vice president to Pettit often is much less efficient than a platform like USpeak. Sometimes key details can be lost in retelling, even when the suggestions manage to climb the ladder at all.

Additionally, having an anonymous platform will allow students who are too nervous to approach Pettit or other leaders directly to speak their mind freely.

Regardless of whatever method the administration decides to use, a space allowing students to share their thoughts with campus leaders would greatly benefit BJU.