Anna Ellermeier / The AS Review
For the past two weeks, AS President Matt Jarrell hosted eight “Talk Times With Your AS President” in an attempt to gather students’ opinions about Western in order to better represent them. The Talk Times, which were poorly attended by the student body, did give Jarrell a partial understanding of some students’ ideas and concerns. The AS Review sat down with Jarrell for a talk time of our own to discuss the forums, the issue of attendance and the impact of what he learned at his Talk Times will have on his leadership.
The AS Review: Overall, how do you feel your Talk Times went?
Matt Jarrell: In general, while I didn’t have a set goal of the number of students I wanted to reach, it was more quality versus quantity. The students who did come and talk to me I feel had concerns and it was great to hear what students were passionate about on campus.
ASR: Why do you think there was such low attendance at the Talk Times?
MJ: Students are incredibly busy and because they [the Talk Times] were so open-ended, maybe they didn’t have any direction on what to talk about. … Also … nothing huge had happened this year so there wasn’t really much to have an opinion on because it is so early in the year.
ASR: Do you believe that low participation in events like these affects our campus?
MJ: I think that low attendance … shows how knowledgeable students are about the AS and about what happens on campus. … They’re not knowledgeable nor are they knowledgeable about board [AS board of director] positions and what we could potentially do. I wish students knew how much we could actually serve them [and] the magnitude of the responsibilities that we have.
ASR: How would you respond to students who are older, such as juniors or seniors, who feel that any decisions made now likely won’t affect them in the short time that they have left at Western?
MJ: I think that while students may be graduating within the next couple of years, they will always be alumni, and what happens on this campus in the future will always reflect on the Western degree. When you go out to get a job in the future and you have a Western degree, it’s the students that are there now that reflect what that represents. You want to make sure you’re leaving Western better than you found it, whether you’re here or not.
ASR: What did you learn from students at your talk times?
MJ: There is a disconnect between students and Academic Advising and the GUR system. There also could be strides made to the graduation process. Students are incredibly passionate about sustainability in both the care of the Outback Farm and with sustainable foods on campus. And graduate students face different problems with health care and assistantships.
ASR: What do you plan to do with the information that you gathered?
MJ: I’ve been setting up meetings with people to deal with a lot of the things that students brought up. Some of the them are quick fixes and others … will take a while to get the ball rolling, but it’s something I’m starting now while it’s fresh in my mind. I’m also going to be doing a presentation to the President’s Cabinet on all of my findings. … In the next couple weeks, I plan on going into the Residence Halls at the hall councils to talk to them as well.
While the Talk Times have concluded, Jarrell stresses that he is still accessible.
“No matter what day it is in the year, I would really like to hear their [students’] ideas and concerns and comments about the university so that I can better serve them,” Jarrell said.