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The Blue & Gray Press | October 23, 2017

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Students: Lodge university-related complaints in a constructive manner

Students: Lodge university-related complaints in a constructive manner

By LAUREN CLOSS

High school students participating in the “Shadow a Student” opportunity at UMW are often met with discouraging comments. One high school student met my friends and other peers in my classes. The student was immediately hit with their apologies about how boring the class was, how the professor didn’t explain a concept enough or how difficult the current homework project. I swooped in to reassure the student that professors are great about answering questions during office hours, how classes are very interesting and that hardworking students can still get an A.

I have noticed a trend among my friends. They tend to focus on minor and often case-specific aspects of UMW that are negative, and then they criticize the university for it. This is particularly interesting for me as a tour guide because we are sometimes criticized for not giving an honest portrayal of UMW to prospective students. I, however, think that what I tell prospective students is an honest portrayal of UMW. It seems to be more than a trend among my friends. A lot of the negative feelings that current students have about UMW spring from isolated incidences and personal frustrations. I have noticed that UMW students love to complain about issues such as dining options, Wi-Fi or building hours without really comparing it to other colleges or contacting the proper facilities to ask why circumstances are the way they are or how we might be able to initiate change. 

For instance, it is not inaccurate or dishonest to say that the UC has a decent amount of options during the main meal times. Sure, University dining is never going to be as good as a homemade meal, but they are trying to cater to the tastes of more than 4,000 students. UMW’s options are comparable to other university dining services that are partnered with Sodexo, including William and Mary, Liberty University and George Mason University. As a vegetarian, it is important to me that menu items are labeled well. I feel like UMW does a pretty good job with that. If I still have questions about ingredients, the staff is knowledgeable about what they serve, very helpful and willing to answer questions.

UMW allows and supports student speech through chalk messages, twitter and newspaper articles, but very few of these student complaints get to dining services directly. Instead of complaining for the sake of complaining, the school would benefit more from students filling out comment cards online or directly addressing issues with the people capable of fixing them. These comments can be seen on the dining hall television screens.

Yes, students have the right and the obligation to criticize the university or society, but, as college students, we should learn how to do this in a constructive manner. If platforms exist to lodge complaints and provide feedback, then it is important to go through those platforms and understand why policies exist before publicly attacking them. We can change UMW for the better and make it seem like a great place to visitors. I know we all love UMW, so we should strive to show others an honest portrayal of this wonderful place.