Verbum Ultimum: A Step in the Right Direction

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 5/10/12 10:00pm

A month ago, The Dartmouth Editorial Board criticized Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson for her seeming disengagement from the student body ("Verbum Ultimum: Open the Door and Listen," April 13), and we were not the only group on campus to express frustration with the apparent disconnect between students and administrators. Former Student Body President Max Yoeli '12 called for more direct communication from administrators, and various student organizations expressed concern that their voices were not being heard ("Administrators remain disconnected, some say," April 12).

Over the last few weeks, however, the Dean of the College Office has demonstrated significant progress in the areas in which it has been criticized, and we commend Johnson for making a renewed effort to engage students on pressing campus issues. Palaeopitus Senior Society recently launched a Google Moderator forum through which students can post and vote on questions for the administration, and Johnson agreed to answer on video the questions that receive the most votes ("Online forum aims at transparency," April 26). By participating in this new medium for campus interaction, Johnson is making a commendable effort to engage with the student body.

We recognize, however, that many of Johnson's responses on the Google Moderator forum may not be fully satisfying to students ("Dean addresses campus inquiries," May 11). Indeed, students may not see eye to eye on the proper way to address many of the issues facing this campus, but despite these differences, the only way to develop solutions that satisfy both students and administrators is through improved interaction and communication. Johnson's participation in the forum marks an important step in this direction.

Google Moderator is not the only example of the administration making a greater effort to reach out to students. On some issues, it is clear that the Dean of the College Office has recently increased its efforts to directly address student needs, such as the hiring of new counselors as part of an overall Wellness Initiative that is closely aligned with student concerns ("Additional counseling staff to begin in August," May 9). Mental health among the student body is of critical importance, and we commend Johnson for making this issue a priority.

As Dartmouth prepares to launch its search for a new president, College leaders have given students the opportunity to provide input through forums and online media ("Helman calls on Student Assembly for opinions," May 9). We are pleased to see this new engagement between students and the administration. As dialogue continues regarding important student issues on campus, we have renewed hope that words will turn into meaningful changes. We encourage the administration to maintain this level of openness and accessibility throughout the search process, and we look forward to hearing even more from College administrators.

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