I've actually met the president of this university.
In person three times, and once I saw him getting out of his car in the parking garage.
I admit that the reasons I met with him in person were Wildcat-related, but I did get to meet him.
I hope this does not make me unique.
But the point is, how many people even know who he is? If you ran into him in the Fiddlee Fig and accidently knocked a taco salad into his lap, would you know you've just soiled Dr. Manuel Pacheco, the University of Arizona president?
Should you care? The glib answer is, "Yes, every student should care," but then the "But why?" follows.
I'm not suggesting that the university post billboards with Pacheco's smiling face across the campus (besides, everyone knows what happens to portraits within an arm's reach). This is also not a slam at Pacheco for being inaccessible, either.
An administrative secretary in the president's office told me that four students visited Pacheco last week to complain about a Mall preacher. And a graduate student called the other day, demanding to know why his diploma was taking so long getting to him.
But apparently most days go by without even a phone call from a student, the secretary said. She assured me that Pacheco did return students' calls when he thinks they are necessary, but admitted she wasn't completely sure what his criteria were.
If the president of an institution is accessible to students, what good is that if students aren't accessible to the president? The relationship goes both ways. The administration needs to know if students, individually or collectively, are upset.
Some groups have been visible. The Student Environmental Action Committee have made their opinions of Mount Graham known via demonstrations and statements, and last year a group of students protested the proposed elimination of their departments.
Non-violent civil protest is a wonderful thing, the idea that if you take action you have a fighting chance at change.
What is most important is that you make a statement, throw your voice and ideas into the discussion or create discussion where there was none.
This is not a hail urging students to form a human stampede into Pacheco's office, or cram the phone lines with prank calls. But if you have a concern, idea, or complaint you must express it in some way, or no one will know.
In addition to being students, we are also customers at this university. It costs money to attend this school, so we are essentially shopping for a good education. I realize not everyone has a choice of schools for a myriad of reasons, and that the out-of-state tuition is lower than others, but the fact remains that students pay to attend the University of Arizona.
If you bought a car and it broke down, you'd take it back or at least let the seller know about the problem. A student obviously can't return an education, but demanding a better quality product is feasible.
It's like concerts where people pay money to see a good band live, and then just stand there. Maybe they think it's cool to act blas‚ and bored while the show is zipping along and people are taking action onstage, but it's not. Letting someone else dictate the quality of your life, or education, is like signing over the tuition check and not expecting anything in return.
So speak up and call the administrators and let them know what you think your education needs, and what you think is good about this university (there are good things, after all). Write a letter, send a singing telegram, whatever gets the point across. Find out who Pacheco is and say hello or even talk to him. He's probably a busy person, so don't go throwing taco salads just to get his attention, but at least know who's in charge around here.
If students are apathetic about the administration's handling of their education, then they don't have much room to complain about the results.
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