Transforming our college through change and conflict
I hope you have settled into the spring semester! It is still a season of transition for Wellesley as an institution, and the sheer speed at which changes have been passed can seem quite alarming.
For example, towards the end of last semester, Academic Council (faculty version of student Senate) voted in a new student schedule, which would be adopted for a three-year period. This schedule revision was designed to address problems with the current schedule, such as insufficient contact hours, courses overlapping on Wednesdays, and course compression (where most classes at Wellesley are taught at particular timeslots). This will affect class timings for Fall 2019, most notably that we will not have a dedicated lunch block.
Another example is that our grading policy also is up for discussion within Academic Council, where there have been lively discussions about whether or not to replace it with something completely different, and whether there is a need for professors and academic departments to make their grading expectations more clear – do students really understand what conspicuous excellence is, when it differs from professor to professor?
More broadly, Wellesley has also embarked on a search for its soul. As part of the accreditation process for the College, the mission statement and core values for the College are also being reviewed to better fit both what Wellesley is today, and what we wish for Wellesley to be. From a College Government perspective, with elections coming up, it is also a time for students to think about what we want from student government, what we want the student body to be like, and what we think student leadership is about. All these changes and discussions concern emotions, strong opinions and deep-seated beliefs that can and arguably will in conflict – we all have different visions of what life at Wellesley should be like.
Conflict can be scary, and there is a temptation for us to get extremely defensive. As College Government President there are times too, that I feel frankly afraid of having to consolidate opinions and take action to chart out a way forward.
But an absence of conflict is never a sign of progress – in fact, it is a sign that we are stuck at the status quo. I want to encourage us to not avoid these difficult conversations and issues, and instead actively work to transform them. Can we envision them instead as having the potential to produce constructive change? Can we take responsibility for creating a better future for this campus?
In my second semester as College Government President, I am hoping to work with CG Cabinet, College Government and all of you to transform spaces where there are ongoing conflicts, and create platforms where we can produce constructive growth from it. I know this sounds vague, so to put it in slightly more specific terms, I am working to:
- Transform Senate into a more dynamic and productive space for student dialogue by asking better questions, encouraging more students to speak, and inviting more campus partners (e.g. transportation)
- Advocate for students in spaces that aren’t traditionally ours, such as in Academic Council, or in the offices of deans, and creating consistent platforms for engagement (e.g. giving Academic Council a regular update on student perceptions on an issue, scheduling bi-weekly meetings)
As always, I can be reached at email@example.com. I also have office hours on Monday 1-2PM, and Tuesday 4.30-6PM in the CG/Bursar’s Office in Lulu 2nd Floor (behind Mail Services, next to the Resource Room).
Kimberly Chia Yan Min ’19
College Government President 2018-2019