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Forums, Committee Provided Adequate Input

Forums, Committee Provided Adequate Input

As an organizer of the student forums with the final candidates for the position of assistant dean for Residence and Campus Activities, I feel obliged to respond to The Tech's editorial of March 15 ["Open Forums Not Done Right"].

The format of these events, to meet each candidate individually, has been criticized. This point was raised by many students prior to the meeting and rejected. The forums are only part of a larger interview process in which candidates meet members of the community with whom they will interact in the future. Time at the end of the interview day was set aside courtesy of Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret R. Jablonski, who is in charge of hiring for this position. In order for the students to jointly meet with all candidates they would have to be invited for a third time at considerable expense and effort. Furthermore a single question-and-answer session would not serve the student population well. We are seeking a dean who can work well with students, advise and support them, be an advocate for their issues, help them organize events and also be a respected and fair supervisor. A three-way debate may yield the most telegenic politician, but not a good advocate for students. We are hiring a professional and to do so, we have to meet with the candidates in a personal setting that will reveal their individual strengths and skills. Imagine if you were to be hired for your first job in the way suggested by the editorial.

It is already remarkable that we have the opportunity to interview candidates before the final decision is made. Students were represented on the search committee, and this has also been true for previous dean searches. It was my aim to offer all students the opportunity to decide for themselves if the candidates meet their expectations. I fear that despite heavy publicity, most students will not come no matter what format the meeting has. Problem sets, classes, or laboratories have higher priority. For this reason we trust friends and student representatives to make a fair judgment. Occasionally, however, we feel so strongly about a subject that we do get involved personally.

The anonymous monster called "the administration" is quite receptive to student input. The largest obstacle is student apathy. Influence on decisions of the administration can only be gained by working with the individuals that make them. Nothing is served on a silver platter. Many processes are overly burdensome for students, but active participation will always be necessary for obtaining results, passive criticism rarely brings about change. Those who scream the loudest of not being heard are typically those who do not show up no matter how much you plead for their participation.

Furthermore, I want to add that these forums provide student input on a decision that Dean Jablonski will make. The mission of the search committee was completed when the three finalists were proposed.

Andrew Rhomberg G