Medill considers establishment of student advisory board

Mindy Hagen

Administrators for the Medill School of Journalism today will collect a survey released two weeks ago that allowed students to voice their opinions on issues such as the formation of an undergraduate advisory board.

Currently heading one of only two Northwestern schools without a student advisory board, Medill administrators said they hope the survey results will show whether students want to establish some sort of forum for increased communication between undergraduates and faculty. New Medill Dean Loren Ghiglione advocated distributing the survey to determine how students prefer to interact with the school, Assistant Dean Roger Boye said.

“We don’t want to do things that students themselves are not interested in,” Boye said. “When we get the results of the survey back, we will try to see how many of the ideas we can actually implement.”

A major focus of the survey is to determine whether students prefer direct access to the dean through longer office hours and more meetings, or if they would rather communicate with the administration through an advisory board of selected students.

Boye said Medill had a student board until the early 1990s, when it folded due to lack of student interest. Many students thought the Medill Student Advisory Council had an exclusionary selection process and preferred to address their concerns through student media on campus instead of going directly to administrators.

“It takes time on Medill’s part to establish something like that, and it’s a waste of our time trying to do something students haven’t bought into,” Boye said. “(Not having an advisory board) does not keep me awake at night. If just one student had come into my office saying it was something we needed, the ball could have gotten rolling.

“It’s not as if people are banging down the door saying, ‘Let’s have an advisory council in Medill.’ But the survey will allow us to gauge what students feel the school’s priorities should be,” he added.

Medill junior Jessica Abo said the survey illustrates Ghiglione’s efforts to be more accessible to students.

“Everything from receiving an e-mail on September 11 to the public knowledge of his office hours has been great,” Abo said. “If there is an advisory board, it would only be more helpful to students who feel like they’d rather talk to other students than professors. The fact that Medill is even offering a survey shows that they are trying to involve as many students as possible.”

Medill sophomore Daniel Frommer said he supports the idea of having as many student liaisons as possible to interact with administrators.

“I feel like I have an obstructed path between my questions and the Medill administration,” Frommer said. “The advisory board would add an extra link between the student body and administrators. I know I am just an undergraduate, but I’d like to be more aware of everything going on.”

Medill is not the only school floating the idea of establishing a student council, as students in the School of Music, the only other school at NU not to have an advisory board, have started a campaign to establish a council of five students. Advisory boards at the other schools have lobbied administrators in the past to make improvements to areas such as academic advising, said Stephen Fisher, associate provost for undergraduate education for the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

“A student advisory board can be very strong depending on its leadership,” Fisher said. “Although Weinberg is a lot bigger than Medill and needs more formal mechanisms for student input, the idea of regular meetings with a small group of students is something I certainly endorse.”