Friday, September 29, 2006

Petra Strikes Again

In shades of last spring's uproar over the Freshman Experience course, student government expressed dismay that Student Life didn't bother to consult them about changing the structure of dorm living here. The A-T reported this in Thursday's paper.

There is even a quote from some administrator who says that the students are right in their complaint. He just promises that there will be more consultation in the future.

Student government doesn't have the power of the faculty, so I imagine their complaints will go nowhere. Petra and her staff don't seem to realize that our campus is supposed to be based on shared governance. They are not haughty aristocrats who get to act "in our interests" without bothering to inform us.

The paper editorializes about it here

This is now the third time that Petra and staff have ignored the rules and tried to implement changes without consulting anyone. As I was writing this, I remembered the arbtrary change of movie-viewing policies on campus. I wonder who they will ignore next?


lammers said...

Aside from the governance issues, I'm really surprised they are considering freshman-only dorms. Isn't the idea to integrate freshmen into the college experience, make them a part of it? My own experience, from over 30 years ago, was that the sophs and upperclassmen on my dorm floor played a HUGE role in helping us freshmen get squared away and oriented to college life. In the girls dorms, they had formal "Big Sis - Li'l Sis" relationships, in the guys dorms it was more diffuse and informal but still very functional. And the following year, we performed a similar experience for the new freshmen.

So, we're going to remove the opportunity for these close mentoring relationships and instead isolate all the totally lost and clueless freshmen together??? That just sounds like a REALLY BAD idea to me.

Anonymous said...

All the more reason the students should bring legal action. This is in violation of Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5)

"The students of each institution or campus subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president, the chancellor, and the faculty shall be active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for such institutions. As such, students shall have the primary responsibility for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services, and interests. Students in consultation with the chancellor and subject to the final confirmation of the board shall have the responsibility for the disposition of those student fees which constitute substantial support for campus student activities. The students of each institution or campus shall have the right to organize themselves in a manner they determine and to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance."

S.B. said...

The reason they want to isolate the freshmen is that then there are no sophomores (and the occasional junior) to buy them alcohol or tell them they can skip Odyssey and floor meetings. I'm not making this up; an RHD basically told me so.

I was also told, while reporting on this last year, that "student input would be sought." Flat-out lie. I've come to expect nothing less of Residence Life.

lammers said...

S.B. said...
"The reason they want to isolate the freshmen is that then there are no sophomores (and the occasional junior) to buy them alcohol ..."

Hm. Yes, that is one thing that is different from 30 years ago: then, the drinking age was 18, so this wasn't an issue. Everyone in college was "legal," at least after the first month or so (I was 17 the first three weeks of my freshman year).

I understand that there are severe problems with inappropriate use of alcohol, but I have always wondered if a higher age limit is the solution to those problems, if it doesn't just cause other problems (like this).

From a philosophical perspective, it has always bothered me that an 18-year-old is considered mature enough to enlist in the armed forces, enter into marriage,take on a 30-year mortgage, etc., but not to purchase alcohol. (It was this line of reasoning that led to the initial lowering of the limit to 18 in the 1970s). If we insist that alcohol is "bad" for an 18- to 21-year-old, aren't we really saying alcohol is bad for everyone? We know from experience that Prohibition doesn't work, so wouldn't it be better to shift the focus to the encouragement of responsible behavior?

Anonymous said...

wow another reason I'm happy to be done. that's a terrible idea if you ask me freshmen need role models. You'd be surprised what impact older students can make. Yes there can be negatives but learning from you experiences is what college is supposed to be all about.

Janine said...

As a mom to a freshman at UWO, I would not be in favor of the freshman-only dorms. I can't tell you how many times our answer to our daughter's questions were, "see if there is a soph. or junior girl on your floor and ask her how she dealt with this problem".

I think UWO is doing all they can do to encourage less drinking (by using the substance free contract option), using Odyssey to allow freshman to meet each other and prof., and also using Odyssey to educate the freshman on the negative impacts of drinking. Making freshman only dorms will not make that effort move forward any faster than it already is.

squanto said...

This is an example of what Petra and her staff does (and which has been acknowledged by other Dempsey folks): she and her staff make decisions that are best for themselves and their areas and not necessarily what is best for the university. You can kill a bug on a wall with a shotgun and you’ve accomplished your goal of killing the bug but you’ve made a big problem for the folks who know have to fix the hole in the wall. In this instance, she and her folks feel that segregating freshmen so they don’t rub shoulders with students who might potentially buy them alcohol is ill-reasoned and short sighted.

All of us here were undergraduate students at one time and did we not gain from the knowledge imparted to us from older undergraduates be it in the dorms, the classroom or in athletics and the arts? We are in the business of not only educating students in their chosen academic field but we are also preparing them for life and segregating them from older undergrads in the name of stamping out ‘demon rum’ and keeping freshmen in dorms together, in introductory courses together will come back to bite this university in the behind. Madison recently dropped all women dorms but I’ll bet you’ll see that issue on our table shortly, too!

It is ironic that for those of us here who actually have children and who are also in the business of educating young adults that we realize that students of all ages gain by being mixed together and not by being separated.