Fairfield students never seem to be without an opinion about how this school is managed. Yet, with the abundance of opinions, ideas and recommendations for the administration, students are missing one of their greatest opportunities to be heard.

About a dozen faculty committees on campus have spots reserved for students. Yet in recent years, including this one, a number of the student seats remain vacant.

“Student members are the links between committees and FUSA and the students at large,” said Professor Vincent Rosivach, chair of the classical studies department. “They can make student views known to their committee and equally importantly, they can inform other students of their committee’s work.”

Students around campus are disappointed at the lack of opportunity and awareness with respect to filling their seats.

“I think there a lot students around campus that would volunteer to participate on committees to make sure our opinions are heard,” says Meghan Ward ’05. “But if students aren’t being appointed and no one tells us about it, how are we supposed to get involved?”

One way students fill seats is through FUSA presidential appointments. Such seats include a voting position on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, two seats on the Public Lectures and Events Committee and two seats on the Athletics Committee.

FUSA President Paul Duffy received a memo on Sept. 6 from Secretary of the General Faculty Irene Mulvey asking for recommendations for students to fill the slots.

“Many of these positions have not been filled in the recent past and I will be delighted if, with your help, the students have the voice that they are entitled to and deserve,” Mulvey wrote to Duffy.

According to Duffy, he has appointed one student to the University Council and one to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, but the other seats under his responsibility of appointment remain empty despite the semester being half completed.

Appointments to these committees cannot be taken lightly, however, as the success of the student seats depends not on simply having someone sit there, but having a student who will go the extra mile to make their voice heard.

“I have served on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee on two occasionswhen there were students representatives,” Rosivach said. “In one case, the student joined actively in the work of the committee. In the other case, the two students representatives came to one meeting.”

Students need to understand their responsibilities clearly before they commit to such work.

“As I recall, the difficulty is that much committee and department work is rather tedious, and students who are not stakeholders in a pressing issue tend to drift away, especially as the work looms towards the end of the semester,” noted Professor Richard Regan of the English department.

Yet, when students take their responsibilities seriously, it seems the effects are positive. Dean of Students Mark Reed has served on several committees with student members, including the most recent committee in charge of organizing the inauguration of President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J.

“I cannot recall a bad experience working with students on committees,” Reed said.

In addition to seats by FUSA presidential appointment, some student slots on committees are automatically designated to certain students based on an office he or she already holds. For example, the FUSA president serves on the crisis management team, and the FUSA cabinet’s director of academics serves on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, according to Reed. Members of the Student Court also automatically serve on the University Judicial Board.

Professor George Lang of mathematics and computer science feels that student seats are effective challenge students on committees to speak their minds more frequently.

“I believe that faculty members are quite willing to listen to a well articulated student perspective,” Lang said. “However, a good number of our students find being in a room full of faculty and/or administrators sufficiently intimidating that they don’t bring a unique perspective to the table.”

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