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The Milton Measure

[Editorial] Communication with the Adminstration

by on Friday, June 7th, 2013

The 1968 editorial that has been reproduced here identifies the absence of communication between the faculty and the students. In the past forty years, Milton has made strides to close this gap, establishing an environment in which students are able to express their dissatisfaction with the administration when necessary.

Milton’s administration has been thrown quite a few curveballs this year, situations that have sparked decisions whose outcomes were not entirely acceptable with the student body. Like the ’68 rejection of a smoking proposal, the use of administrative disciplinary committees and the eradication of holiday traditions spurred a lot of talk and anti-administrative sentiments. The choices made this year by the administration may have upset the student body, but in comparison to the reactions over forty years ago, students did not just return to their dorms, fostering and building resentment against the administration. They spoke out, communicating their aggravations in open meetings and lunches with class deans and administrators.

Granted, the students still did not always feel that their voices were heard. Often times students leave these meetings feeling even more confused and bitter than before, thinking that the school leaders had not taken their complaints seriously. Although the administration has created a friendly atmosphere in which students feel comfortable voicing their opinions, they have not necessarily created an atmosphere in which these opinions are actually taken into consideration.

The disciplinary process in particular has been a source of significant debate between the student body and members of the administration during this year alone. Given the recent use of administrative Disciplinary Committees, the question has come up: how legitimate is the student body’s voice if the administration can still choose to ignore their opinions in moments of judgment? While the responsibility to decide on and enforce discipline rests entirely with the administration, the lack of student voices in the DC’s that most often result in steep punishment demonstrates a breech in communication between the student body and the administration.

By censoring the voices of students when they matter the most, the administration throws into question the legitimacy of any student opinion. Obviously, much of the previous tension between the administration and the student body profiled in the 1968 editorial has disappeared, but use of the administrative DC not only delegitimizes the value of the normal DC but also clarifies that in the end, administrators will always have absolute and final power; their implementation of the self-governing association (SGA), designed to act as a liaison between students and administrators, consequently wields authority largely conditional upon the circumstances.

Additionally, the administration’s recent decision to change a long-standing dorm tradition where the Forbes freshmen kiss Robbins seniors on the cheek sparked outrage amongst the boarding community. Because it was an integral part of the winter holiday season, one in which many previous boarders have participated, the decision feels unwarranted in the minds of most. The administration can’t possibly have honest and complete communication with students if they continue to make decisions on issues without student input. Furthermore, their choice to censor Octet’s annual rendition of Santa Baby has similarly met opposition, largely because the majority of students saw no issue in it. While these issues might not be as pressing as the disciplinary process, the administration has shown that while they proclaim themselves open to communication, in the end the decision will be theirs and only theirs.

The friction between the administration and the student body has undoubtedly decreased since the included 1968 editorial was published; nevertheless, the same fundamental issues remain. By selectively choosing when to legitimately consider and include students in the decision-making process, administrators increase the distance themselves from students. This lapse in communication will continue to breed discontent, and until the administration chooses to act on these shortcomings, the bridge between the two will continue to be shaky.

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Posted by on Jun 7 2013. Filed under Editorial, More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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