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Administration Tries To Improve Communication

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 18:08

It was a kick off to the New Year with new resolutions, not only for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), but also for UConn officials as they paid a surprise visit to the meeting Wednesday in hopes of bridging a gap in communication between the administration and the student campus.

Among those in attendance who sat side-by-side with USG leaders, were Dean of Students Lee Williams; John Barry, director of communications; Tom Bloom, computer manager at Student Affairs and the IT department and David Clokey, executive director for Finance & Technology in the Division of Student Affairs.

Administration officials came to the senate to look for ways to improve communication with students across campus. This comes after criticism and accusations that the administration lacked efforts in communication with students.

"There is no effort to keep you in the dark," Williams said.

The senate expressed their concerns about emergency communication, from power outages to water-main breaks among other things.

Some senators suggested a way to better inform students ahead of time, or provide explanation afterwards.

Williams said in the past, events that have been planned ahead of time were better organized but those that were not caught university officials off-guard.

"After the [UConn] e-mail shut down, what that led us to realize in the event of an emergency, we don't have any effective way of communication with the student body," Williams said.

Senators provided suggestions from posting signs on dining halls, Homer Babbidge Library and buses, to providing a hotline for students to reach in case of an emergency.

The university has built a vehicle to communicate with students, students.uconn.edu, as a way to keep students informed with the latest weather advisory and news information.

"We created this web site because students asked for this," Barry said. "I think we hit a home run building the student page."

For the time being, Barry said the Internet is the best means of communication.

"I'm hoping that we will continue to grow as an administration [using Internet] as a mechanism for communication."

The university has 90,000 employees, according to Barry. As the size of the university keeps expanding, so will lines of communication with top administration - one of the pressing concerns for students and critics.

Barry said it's a struggle for university officials who question if regular editorials and commentaries about the criticisms of administration's lack of efforts do in fact represent student opinion.

"It's a challenge because students aren't a homogeneous group," he said. "And how do we interpret that? We could use some help and we are committed to try to make it better."

It is one step forward speaking to groups like this, Barry said. The next step is moving beyond identifying the problem and taking the initiative to solving and developing a better system of communication.

Sen. Shawn Logue and other members of the senate praised the administration for stepping up to the plate and hearing its student constituency.

Among other business, the spring semester was launched with changes and adjustments as USG appointed and swore in Sen. Kade Etter, 4th-semester biomedical engineering major, as the new USG speaker. Etter will takeover former speaker Sen. Tom Dillon, who held the position last semester and stepped down due to academic reasons.

Last semester the senate suffered some criticisms from funding events such as speakers Ann Coulter and Cindy Sheehan, to problems with the inexperience of the judiciary, among others. President Sarah Domoff spoke to the senate acknowledged mistakes and weaknesses and expressed devotion to revamp the senate and its relations within its members and student campus. Deadline for applications for judiciary is Friday and USG elections underway and begin Jan. 30.

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