What would you do to change the climate on campus? That was the question posed to students by the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) this spring. We sent a call for proposals seeking bold and creative ideas for making Rollins a more just and inclusive place. Over 35 students responded by submitting proposals. Their ideas ranged from incorporating immersion trips into the RCC program to establishing a random study group system that would bring students together across social and academic lines.
DAC knows from experience that students have lots to say about their lives at Rollins and ways to improve the campus. The results of our 2014 Student Campus Climate Survey told us that while 73% of students report feeling comfortable with the social and academic environment, there’s always more to be done. Themes from the survey reflected a desire for more campus unity; wanting to end incivility, especially in the form of catcalling; a split feeling of connection and alienation from fraternity and sorority life; and tension around socio-economic class.
Students are an essential starting point in thinking about campus change. Students’ relationships with each other—in classes, in clubs, on teams, and in housing—have a profound impact on the campus experience. The climate survey demonstrates that in the vast majority of cases (78.8%), students cite other students as the actors in incidents of incivility or insensitive treatment. Of course, we all have a role to play and a different grant award will support faculty and staff ideas for making change. But we believe it’s important to acknowledge students as agents in shaping our campus, for good and bad.
Student submissions to the Innovation Award reflect most strongly a desire for campus unity. Some proposals focused on intramural athletics as an area for growth. Our second place proposal, “Rollapalooza,” described a combination of Fox Fest and field days, where participation in activities during the day earned students wristbands for entry into a concert at night. Many submissions discussed the failure of the e-mail system to communicate effectively with students and imagined a Rollins App—using technology to build opt-in communities and audiences for specific kinds of events and activities.
The immediate reward for these innovative ideas will come in the form of checks to the winning students. The deeper impact, though, will come in the months and years to come. As the members of DAC serve in our daily functions as professors, staff, and administrators on campus, we are all in positions to translate these exciting ideas into policy and practice. In making the case for investing energy and money in a new direction, it’s always valuable to be able to say that the idea is by students and for students. Thanks so much to the dozens of students who shared their thoughts with us.
Congratulations to our winners:
1st place: Caroline Van Patten and Miya Furukawa with “Immersing the Freshman Class through the RCC Experience”
2nd place: Morgan Colley, Madison Papariello, Darby Uhl and Melinda Barret with “Rollapalooza”
3rd place winners: Natasha Gaye with “Brain Gain”; Myles Shealey, Rebecca Gakwaya, Luisana Herrera, and Jamie Wadovick with “Rship: The App to Inclusiveness”; Cassidy Masso, Caroline O’Keefe, Stephanie Murphy, and Carlos Garmendia with “Point-Pal Reward System”; James Tortorici with “Diversity Fair”; and Kendall Holly with “MotivaTars”