The faces of this year’s Vice President Student Life Advisory Board are selected by Ronald Gray, Ph.D. ANGELINA PEREZ / THE QUADRANGLE
By Angelina Perez, Asst. Features Editor & Web Editor
Vice President for student life and dean of students Ronald Gray, Ph.D., has created a diverse advisory board consisting of members from student government, athletes, residence life and commuters to allow them to amplify their voices about student needs on campus.
“Being Vice President, you don’t get a chance to really meet with students and hear their voices as much as you’d like,” Gray told the Quadrangle. “I initiated the work in the spring..it really is a guide for everyone so that they can hear the student voice.”
Gray explains that he understands how important it is for students at Manhattan College to bring up issues they deem relevant to the betterment of the campus.
“A lot of them had concerns about meal plan setup for commuters and what artist we’re going to have at spring fest,” Gray said. “They’re great ideas and a huge piece of information to help me do a better job and enlighten me on stuff that is cool and in popular culture.”
The process for the advisory board to bring up relevant issues begins with students addressing their concerns at board meetings and then the issues are discussed with the relevant departments.
“My hope is that we bring it back to them in a reasonable amount of time.“Students are extremely intelligent, and you just have to treat them like people. They don’t expect the world to change overnight as long as they know you’re working on something,” Gray said.
Kristyn Smith is a senior marketing major who plans to involve commuter students with sports games during the day or when they are not on campus.
“I think just understanding that there are other teams that don’t get the same support from regular students,” Smith said. “You’ll see a lot of other athletes at games, but I don’t see a lot of other students unless they happen to be passing by. Even then, they don’t necessarily stay for very long.”
Discussion of what could benefit the athletes and students to increase attendance was brought up during a previous advisory meeting in hopes of more advertisements for games being pushed out on multiple social media platforms.
“We’ve thought about tailgating,” Smith said. “There’s a big empty lot next to Leo that we can have people come out to and play backyard games, eat food and see other people around campus that you might get to know or have never seen before.”
Harrison Bookner is a sophomore physical education major who started his first year at MC as a commuter. He is now living on campus and can see firsthand the difference in student engagement.
“Last May, I took a class for my kinesiology concentration, called Outdoor Pursuits, where I got to engage in leadership activities outdoors for seven days in upstate Connecticut,” Bookner said. “I felt left out that I wasn’t living on campus because the people I met all knew each other from the dorms. Now that I am living on campus, I feel like an actual part of the Manhattan College community, whereas in my first year, I didn’t.”
Elizabeth Kennedy is a sophomore communications major with a minor in digital media arts who decided last semester she wanted to take her friends’ complaints and her own to a space where her voice would be listened to.
Kennedy explained how the student advisory spoke about spring fest and making the whole experience for commuter students easier this upcoming spring semester.
“It previously put [commuters] in an awkward spot where they didn’t feel like actual students who could go to spring fest due to the guest policy not being accessible during that weekend,” Kennedy told The Quadrangle. “I think at least commuters should be allowed to stay over because those kinds of events happening on campus are important for socialization.”
Senior Emilia O’Neil had previously established a working relationship with Gray before the application went out and knew the opportunity to join the advisory board would further develop her leadership skills in her double major in psychology and Spanish humanities.
“I think there are a lot of opportunities on this campus for students to have their voices heard and collaborate with not just their classmates but with faculty and administrators at the higher level,” O’Neil said. “I think [the advisory board] offers students an opportunity to feel empowered and have a platform where they are respected and in a position of change.
O’Neil continued to explain how boards like the student advisory hold opportunities for personal improvement and development for the campus community to foster a more robust, collaborative environment.
“I think opportunities like this are invaluable experiences for students on campus to challenge their thoughts, opinions, and perspectives on things in a respected and supportive environment that has power,” O’Neil said.“This board is an opportunity to express those sentiments to someone [Gray] who can be a vessel for change and set you up for dynamics that you will face in the future.”