‘Student’ is crucial for Director of Student Leadership

In a fascinating turn of events, Student Affairs will be restructuring in the coming months with a novel new focus: the students.

Four Student Affairs higher-ups will be given fancy new titles and apparently new obligations and responsibilities aimed at improving student life at Northeastern.

While it’s always a gargantuan deal for the director of student leadership to become the director of student leadership and engagement, what does it all mean? This is not meant as an indictment on the four individuals, who are certainly deserving of the new titles, but doesn’t this seem like a lot of smoke being blown around? Whenever terms like “restructuring” are brought up, doesn’t that really mean they’ve just been screwing around with the Student Affairs division and have decided to try and get back on track? You don’t renovate a house unless it’s already in bad shape.

All skepticism aside, the ideals of the restructure are essentially such that the new figureheads will have a more direct grasp on several aspects of student life. For example, Marina Iannalfo, who will be named dean of campus life, will oversee ResLife and Student Center/campus activities. The goal, as it appears in the early stages, is to put a name and face on the major elements of the student experience, particularly residential life and activities. That’s fine. Divide Student Affairs up into the key categories – and they might as well add academics and judicial affairs while they’re at it.

But here’s the fatal flaw: A title means very little if the keeper of said title is impossible to contact.

If Student Affairs is really focused on the affairs of the students, the first (and most important) step is clarity. Not to evoke the infamous “NU Shuffle,” but the last thing this campus and these students need are varied and oblique titles for these people. OK, great start, Student Affairs. But honestly, what immediate good is this going to do? How will it directly apply to students? Does this mean if a student has a problem with his or her dorm, they will know right off the bat to direct queries to Iannalfo? If the new Student Government Association president gets accused of, say, a bank robbery, will students know to seek the counsel of new Director of Student Leadership and Engagement John Silveria? Or is this just another organized mess, another labyrinth of assistants and secretaries and voicemails for students to wade through?

The key word for Student Affairs in this process is simplicity. You are of no use to the students if the students have no clue what’s going on. Otherwise, you’ll restructure yourself right back into the mire.

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