Author: Elina Tin
Editor: Mariia Lysikova
Mateo Lamnije and Sevara Khaitmetova, representatives of StuCo, explain how StuCo can become a more active voice for the student body. Photo by Sofia Rukhadze.
You don’t need to know; you just need to be here on time. Do students have a voice in LCC policymaking?
On February 12, 2020 LCC registrar sent out a message from Academic Vice President Dr. J. D. Mininger announcing the new late arrival policy for the following 2020-2021 academic year. The policy states that all students must be attending classes by the fourth day of the semester. Since the policy was announced, there has been some visible tension on the LCC campus.
Students were upset with how the email was presented to them.
Elena Bulgac, junior communication major explained, “Reiterating the same thing again just felt too directive, it came off as ‘you don’t need to know, you just need to be here on time’”.
Bulgac comes from a small country of Moldova where planes don’t fly regularly. She noted that there are, “usually one or two flights per week”. It will come to a point where she will be forced to make the decision between choosing the first flight which means spending one week less at home, or being late a couple of days and paying for the less expensive ticket.
Students also feel that there is a gap of miscommunication between the LCC administration and the student body.
Hrak Haytayan, a junior Business major said, “I know that student council has a vote on something, but I do not feel that we are well informed on what is going on internally, why all these changes apply to us.”
The new policy emphasizes that only truly exceptional circumstances will be approved and Work&Travel will no longer be a legitimate excuse.
Fadi Pola, a junior Business major from Iraq said, “Technically, my case is a critical case. I am paying $1000 to go see my family once a year and two weeks isn’t enough. You spend one day and a half going one way and a day and a half coming back, so you’re left with 12 days a year, so I choose to take an extra week.”
Not only do students have comments and opinions on the late arrival policy, but so do the faculty and administration.
When asked about miscommunication between the student body and the administration, Dr. Andrew Jones, Assistant Communications professor said, “One immediate issue is that email is always going to sound meaner than it really is. And that becomes even more true when you’re dealing with a policy or a procedure”.
He continued to explain that there’s also an additional layer to this, which is people hate change. “If you give someone a reason for change, then they’re much more willing to accept it,” he suggested.
“If we think about ways of communicating more effectively with students, one way that is better is to use a representative format. You would want your representative, someone from StuCo, to come back to the student body and say ‘here is this thing that has been decided, we had a voice on this decision and this is why the decision has been made’,” recommended Jones.
He said that one of his favourite things about LCC is the access to the halls of power. “It’s possible to have a conversation with anybody at LCC and just to say ‘hey, there’s this idea that I had, I think this would be a better solution’”, said Jones.
Andrew Jones talking about Late Arrival policy to Elina Tin. Photo taken by Viktoriia Pegushina
Dr. Jones also addressed the situation from a faculty perspective. He said, “it’s really demoralizing for a faculty member to look out and see that half of the students aren’t even there”. He stated that it makes faculty question their own value and ask questions like ‘is this even important?’.
In order to address and discuss the following issues, Dr. J.D. Mininger, Academic Vice President of LCC who has been in office since January 2017, explained the significance of the policy in a formal interview.
“Policies are made for the benefit of the students. It may not seem that way because students observe this as loss of possible revenue, I do get that. The reason that this is for the student’s benefit is that we run into all sorts of tangles and troubles in add/drop week, and this is why we had backed it up the two days. We needed students to be here to do their own add/drop week,” he said.
Mininger also noted that while some students benefit greatly from it, the LCC administration sees many students who abuse the policy by staying longer just because they can.
In terms of students with already signed contracts and bought the tickets, he said, “I would ask ‘were you planning to come back on Monday?’, ‘can you show me that that’s the case?’ and ‘have you done everything to talk to your employer?’”. Mininger clarified that if the student was able to explain the situation as best as possible and try to make it to the last deadline, then there would be room for discussion.
“The most important thing for LCC is not what the attendance policy is, but that our vision of education is one that emphasizes classroom activity,” he said.
To address the concern of miscommunication among the community, Mininger said, “Student Council is most properly the governments wing of the students that participates with the administration on administrative decision making bodies, what it means is students have a voice in the decisions made at LCC”.
Dr. Mininger advised students to become more involved with student council even maybe organize a town meeting type of experience solely for the purpose of him answering questions and addressing concerns that students have.
Mateo Lamnije is the LCC Student Council Vice President who is the student representative on the Academic Council. When asked about student involvement, Lamnije said, “Of course, complaining is not that hard, but you also need to be active and constructive on what you say and show up where we need you to show up”. He referenced the recent Coffee with StuCo event which took place on Thursday, February 20th and said, “only three students showed up”.
Mateo explained that since the beginning of the academic year, student council has been trying to be more active, to cooperate with the students more. He brought up the attendance policy which is also currently being revised. He said that StuCo’s office hours are every day (except Thursday) from 12-1 in StuCo office and students are more than welcome to stop by and raise any questions or concerns.
When asked if there is any room for discussion about the new late arrival policy, Sevara Khaitmetova, LCC Student Council President said, “I would suggest either enforcing the policy next year, because this year it will be on September 2nd or let the Work &Travel Assistant send emails to the employers not forcing students to work past Labor Day”.
Khaitmetova mentioned an electronic petition that the StuCo team is currently working on. She said, “Polina Lynova wants to make a petition that will allow all students to click and sign it, and if we have at least one-third of the whole student body then I could present it to the president's cabinet”.
We need your reaction! We need your voice!, Sevara Khaitmetova emphasized.
Your Voice Does Wonders
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