Students gather for community dinner
Administrators brought concerns about decision-making and student-administrator relationships to the Programming Board's third Community Dinner last night in the Collis Common Ground
In keeping with the dinner's theme of decision-making, nine administrators brought problems to the podium seeking student input.
Among the administrators present were Dean of the College Lee Pelton, Director of College Dining Services Peter Napolitano and Director of Career Services Skip Sturman.
Summer Programming Board co-Chair Karen Lefrak '98, who organized the dinner with Associate Director of Student Activities Linda Kennedy, said, "The purpose of the dinner was to bring together students and administrators in a setting where they don't ordinarily get to interact and foster discussion between the two groups."
Some of the topics that students and administrators discussed over dinner were self-segregation of groups on campus, the sense of community at Dartmouth, social space and programming and the role of mediation at the College.
The dinner was open to all students for a two dollar charge and about 40 students attended.
Focusing on relationships between administrators and students, Pelton spoke informally for 15 minutes before the dinner.
"The purpose of the dinner was to create an opportunity for interested students and administrators to make a better community," he said.
The job of an administrator is to "provide care for the long-term welfare of the institution."
Pelton went on to make some observations about relations between administrators and students.
"Not all decisions administrators make require input from students," Pelton said. "As a general rule any decision for discussion that may affect students ought to involve students in the process."
Involving students in the decision-making process is not always easy due to time constraints and legal constraints. The D-plan also works against students and administrators having a good working relationship, he said.
Students and administrators live in different time zones, he said; while students are interested in what affects them at their time at Dartmouth, administrators often have more long-term interests.
"Perhaps some administrators need to do a better job of understanding the immediacy of student concerns," Pelton said.
He then cited some common mistakes made in student-administrator decision-making.
There is often a failure to recognize the diversity of opinion among students and administrators, he said, and he warned against the tendency to lump opinions together.