Letter: Northeastern University and the Impediments to Creating Change

Letter: Northeastern University and the Impediments to Creating Change

We’ve all experienced it. The infamous “Northeastern Shuffle.” You have a question, so you go to one department… and you’re directed to a different office, then another and the next thing you know, you’re in the basement of Holmes Hall staring into a coat closet.

It’s a bureaucracy out there, and we’re all just living in it.

In some ways, I respect how difficult it is to get tangible answers on this campus. Northeastern prides itself on its ability to emulate real life. The real world isn’t simple, so why should our administrative process be any more so? You want results? Then you better be ready to work for them.

You see, I count myself lucky to know a lot of motivated individuals who are simply trying to make this university better. There is work to do, and these students are the ones willing to do it. Why? Because we are passionate, we know the change that we want to see and we will put in the work to turn our vision into reality. From topics ranging from diversity and inclusion within student government to comprehensive on-campus health care to fossil fuel divestment, Northeastern students are working hard to create change.

But sometimes, it becomes a little too much. We all came to Northeastern for a variety of reasons, but I think it’s safe to say that when a majority of us saw this campus for the first time, we imagined ourselves thriving in a deluge of academia, opportunity and experience. However, in the process of trying to cultivate this rich environment, I have witnessed students – including myself – feel the stifling pressure exerted by a constant administrative runaround that seems to subsist on a strategy of appeasement rather than trying to find solutions for positive change. The university is more than happy to meet with students and make commitments behind closed doors, but when it comes to advancing meaningful action, our administration falls woefully short.

So here is my ask of the administration: Meet us halfway. Let’s stop playing “Runaround Sue.” I, as a student of this university, am a stakeholder in my living and learning environment and in the causes and issues with which this institution chooses to engage. I don’t just want to be listened to – I want to be heard. Instead of meeting with students to prove that the administration is “willing to engage,” let’s meet with intention and make an effort to understand where both parties are coming from. Let’s take that next step and come up with an action plan, and hold both the administration and the students accountable for seeing it through. Northeastern was recently named an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus – let’s prove that we deserve this recognition. The students on this campus are more than ready.

-Sophia Showalter is a sophomore environmental studies and economics student and a member of Divest NU.

Photo courtesy Austin Williams, DivestNU

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