New student dean is keen
Dr. Harold Fields, Canisius’s new Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, spoke with the Undergraduate Student Association last week about his newness to Canisius and his hopes for his partnership with the USA. His performance—for all the world’s a stage—impressed The Griffin.
Composed of four upperclassmen, the executive board of the USA have been students at Canisius longer than most of Canisius’s “executive board,” including Fields, have been in their office. The newest of these vice presidents acknowledged this fact but, thankfully avoiding the dreaded “leading by listening” platitudes, gave some of his own goals for the campus such as evaluating the merits of various campus traditions—“there are times when traditions have run their course.”
Considering his relative inexperience at Canisius, Fields also displayed a credible grasp of the college’s recent history—and its implications, including enrollment decline and residence hall rates. While he duly left the former to Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Danielle Ianni, he approached the residence hall issue, which is more in his domain, with an eye toward the future. He noted that “our residence halls aren’t full. Less than half our students live on campus . . . so there’s a huge opportunity” to fill the residence halls again, which would potentially improve the student life of all students.
Blunt without being boorish, Dr. Fields told a senator who inquired about how students could assist Fields to, “Please, please get out of here [Canisius]. As much as I want to see you here, I want to see you walk across the stage.” He also told senators that they should be more proactive in meeting with and creating solutions for their student constituents, rather than merely serving as a link between students and administrators.
Fields said he would reach out to all of USA and ask for their feedback on issues from dining hall food to campus traditions. President Steve Stoute, in an address to USA this past week, emphasized “two-way communication” in which his office would always be open. The Griffin challenges each senator to take the Vice President and President up on their offers. -PH
To a more sustainable Senate
Though it is definitely good for administrators to be available, opportunity alone isn’t enough. Encouragement is often required. We at The Griffin try to encourage younger reporters and editors to collaborate on a story or interview with a senior editor so that they build up the confidence to one day take the senior editor’s role—a formula which has made us the oldest existing club on campus. The best way to build a backbench of future leaders is to encourage their active participation as younger students.
USA needs to encourage advocacy among its newest members. Its executive board meets weekly with Canisius decision-makers, but senators, not the e-board, are supposed to represent students. The job of the executive board is to facilitate this representation, and so it should make sure administrators meet first with senators before themselves.
If USA wishes more students to run for office, and if students wish those students to be more qualified, then we cannot have students wait until they are on USA’s e-board to begin to represent student interests to administration. The Griffin would like to see, for example, a senator or two invited to the USA e-board’s weekly meetings with administrators, just as senators are required to each attend a meeting of the Finance Board.
The first meeting with a campus leader is awkward at best and intimidating at worst. But there is no other way to become a good advocate, and the anxiety can be blunted if it is done with a colleague. -PH