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Small changes can have a big effect on campus life


March 8, 2018

In just about any given environment, the people living or working within it will notice things that they want to fix. A university is no exception; thousands of people walk the halls of the buildings and sit in the classrooms every day, and many of these people have one or two things they think can improve.

The physical environment of a classroom is the first thing that people tend to notice. Student Voice staff have noticed a handful of things that can improve at UW-River Falls. Some of the smaller things are a lack of left-handed desks, Kleenexes and hand sanitizer in classrooms. Something more significant is the recent decision to remove trash cans from the classrooms, which has made it difficult to dispose of waste when professors strongly discourage students from leaving class.

The other factor in a classroom is the relationship between professors and students. The syllabus, for example, would be more useful if it were made available to students before they sign up for classes. Student would be less likely to sign up for classes they can’t handle, and so there would be fewer last-minute drops.

In terms of establishing deeper relationships between students and professors, office hours are a valuable opportunity. Most professors strongly encourage that people take advantage of these hours. However, the current method for posting these hours is inconsistent and oftentimes inconvenient.

The Student Voice staff would like to see a centralized list online where students can look up the office hours of their professors without having to walk to the physical office. This will reduce wasted trips from off-campus locations and ensure that a student won’t miss the professor. The best place to put this list would likely be under the staff directories that already exist on the university website.

Another feature that could be implemented would be an online system for signing up for meetings. Many professors already have meeting sign-up sheets in physical form that they post on their doors. Moving this online and making it available with every professor would make it much easier for students and professors to avoid conflicts when setting up meetings.

Students also have a responsibility to make these relationships with professors work. Professors get frustrated when no one shows up to office hours. It is doubly frustrating when students make appointments and never show up to them. If an online appointment system were to be made, students should make sure that they make the effort to uphold their commitments and show professors that their time is valuable.

There will always be small changes like these that students across campus will want to make. The university can’t account for them all, but we think that a good way to get a better feel for them would be to implement a suggestion box in the University Center. The students are the ones who live in this environment, and they often have a good idea of what needs to change.