By Amarelis Bracero
I remember when I attended my first Pancakes with the President. Sure, at the time, I was on a strict diet and could not partake in the pancake eating festivities, but I was able to mingle with the President and other administrators present. It is an event I make a point of attending. Sure, the free food is an incentive, but it is also one of the rare opportunities students have to speak with upper administration.
The other time we have that opportunity is Student Appreciation Week. Amongst other events, there is a Pizza with the President event held in Joel Bloom’s office. From what I can tell, students love the event. They come for the pizza, but they stay for the chance to ask President Bloom whatever questions about NJIT they may have.
It’s not just the students who enjoy the event. Next time this event happens, watch President Bloom. He listens intently, making you feel at ease and, well, appreciated. Though there are some hard-hitting questions, he does not take those as excuses to no longer hold the event. I believe, and I may be wrong here, that President Bloom truly enjoys this event. From what I can tell, student appreciation and student satisfaction are important to President Bloom.
Too bad I can’t say the same about other administrators and faculty members.
See, over the last four years, I have accumulated a wealth of dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, that dissatisfaction mainly stems from not feeling appreciated.
It starts with the little guys, like Financial Aid and Bursar. When a student calls to resolve an issue with their bill, they shouldn’t have to mention the fact that their mother works for the president of the university to get results. That’s not how you show student appreciation. A student should receive the help they need and the results from said help no matter whom their parents work for. My anxiety that summer (2014, I will never forget) was at its worse and dealing with Financial Aid/Bursar was overwhelming. No student should have to deal with that.
And the problems persist as you go up the ladder and into administration.
After the Fall 2012, semester was over all of my high school friends posted photos of emails letting them know they made it on to the Dean’s List. Despite my stellar GPA, I never got such an email from NJIT congratulating me on my hard work. Throughout my four years here, I have improved my GPA and I still have yet to receive an email letting me know I made it to Dean’s List. Yet, if you Google “Amarelis D. Bracero” the fourth result leads to NJIT’s complete Dean’s List. Apparently, I’ve been on it this whole time, but I was never told so I went through college thinking that I was not on the same level as my friends at other universities. A simple email telling me that I made Dean’s List would have done wonders to my self-esteem. Perhaps it would be in the administration’s best interest to send these emails out to help NJIT students feel more commended and appreciated for all of their hard work.
When new players come to town and old players start leaving town, there’s a problem. This year alone, six faculty members that we know of, are no longer with NJIT. Many remember when Lynn Riker was mysteriously put on administrative leave. That action sparked a reaction from NJIT employees, students, and alumni alike. Obviously, Lynn Riker was an important part of NJIT’s culture. She made students feel appreciated.
Her administrative leave also prompted former Student Senate president Rajeet Das to write The Vector a Letter to the Editor. In it he speculates who the next person to mysteriously leave NJIT will be. Well, Raj, you were right. Humberto Baquerizo (aka Humby) will not be returning for the 2016-2017 academic year. I am sure this news comes as a surprise to many. It’s unfortunate news, and NJIT will not be the same without him. I honestly, truly mean that.
So, why bring this up and what does this have to do with student appreciation and student satisfaction?
Simply put, these people meant something to NJIT. They were beloved members of the NJIT community who actually gave a damn about the students attending this university. By letting them go or simply not renewing their contracts, those in charge of Student Affairs prove one thing: it seems they are out of touch with the needs of the students on campus.
Though this editorial might not do much in getting anybody’s job back, I hope it succeeds in reminding those in Student Affairs that student satisfaction and student appreciation is an integral part of their jobs. Please don’t prioritize your personal relationship with a candidate and whether you have worked with them before when make new hiring decisions. Leave those politics out of here. Decisions like do not take into consideration the needs of NJIT students. We do not need someone who will come to this campus, make a bunch of changes, update their resume, and then leave us worse than what we were when they got here. We need somebody who is willing to give their all to NJIT and its community.
And with that, I want to direct the following to my staff:
In the four years that I have been here, I have come to truly appreciate the right to free speech and the freedom of the press. I hope to have inspired returning members of The Vector to fight at all cost for those rights and freedoms. Don’t let anybody take this paper away from you. Fight like hell. The content of citywide newspapers, like the one Rutgers-Newark will be releasing, is heavily mediated and controlled. That is a disservice to the community.
Remember we have a solemn vow to be the NJIT community’s voice when asked, to be their freedom of speech when the world censors them, and most importantly, to be their one and only independent-student newspaper.