Administrators get a feel for student life in ASG-organized shadowing program

Erica Snow, Reporter

When Dean of Students Todd Adams shadowed Weinberg freshman CJ Patel last week, he realized by sitting in Psychology 228 that he didn’t know that much about cognitive psychology.

Adams and Patel were one of eight administrator-student pairs who participated in the second year of the Day in the Life program held by Associated Student Government’s Student Life Committee. The goal was to allow administrators a look into the everyday life of an undergraduate, said student life vice president Wendy Roldan, a McCormick junior.

By connecting students with administrators, the program allowed students to share their experiences and challenges they face to see how the pair could solve them, Adams said.

“I learned just how fast-paced a busy student schedule can be,” Adams said. “It reaffirmed for me the type of schedule and the amount of work — academic and otherwise — that students are doing everyday.”

In its pilot year, the program was only available to ASG members. This year, the program was available for all students interested in participating.

“A really cool benefit of this program is that it can give a voice to students who might not be as vocal in the university or within student government,” said Miles Kurtz, a McCormick junior.

Kurtz was shadowed by Joseph Holtgreive, McCormick assistant dean for student career development, after a friend in ASG recommended him for the program. However, Kurtz said, selection next year should include a wider variety of students who may not have connections to people in ASG.

Patel, a member of ASG’s Student Life Committee, said the program serves to bridge the gap between administrators who make policies and the students they affect.

“We see that there’s been a disconnect between the students and the admin,” Patel said. “The admins are making the policies for Northwestern, but the students are feeling the impact of these policies.”

Administrators asked students their opinion on current issues, such as the possible implementation of a 10-5-5-10 quarter system, said Sandeep Bharadwaj. Bharadwaj, who participated in the program last year, was shadowed by Peter Civetta, director of undergraduate research.

Civetta attended class with Bharadwaj, the McCormick junior said, and observed the preparations for an upcoming fundraiser for Global Brigades, the club of which Bharadwaj is president. Bharadwaj, ASG director for dining initiatives, said the shadowing could show administrators how small policies in one department can affect students in multiple ways.

“They don’t really see how affecting one realm of student life affects everything else,” Bharadwaj said. “For a student, everything is affected at the same time.”

Adams said he found common ground with Patel, with aspects of Patel’s day reminding him of his own college experience.

“I rarely get this deep of an inside peek,” Adams said. “It provides that next level of understanding and better context with how students are engaging with the campus community, what they see as valuable in that community, and where they also find challenges within it and how we might work together to address those.”

ASG tries to remain in contact with administrators to foster changes students wish to see, Roldan said. The program will continue next year and may switch the roles, allowing students to shadow administrators, she added.

Some pairings, like Adams and Patel, are already talking about independently organizing days when the students can shadow the administrators this year, Patel said.

“ASG should be acting as a liaison between the student body as a whole and between administrators,” Roldan said. “Hopefully with this program, we were able to include more voices that weren’t essentially heard before because they weren’t directly associated with ASG.”

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