Students voice their concerns
By Glauce Fleury, Contributor
Because I was curious, I attended the second annual Dinner with the President on January 17 at the New Westminster campus. I wanted to see the event’s purpose in person. At educational institutions, it’s rare to see professionals in high positions like Scott McAlpine, President of Douglas College, stopping and listening to students’ concerns so openly. At least, it’s rare to me. When I left the event, I was proud of the college in which I chose to invest my money—and I’m going to be even prouder if change really comes.
Blaine Jensen, Vice President of Educational Services, talked about engagement and invited us to reflect on how academically and intellectually engaged we are. There are different opinions about engaged behaviour; however, I doubt anyone would disagree with me that engagement means more than just attending classes and being an “A” student.
More than just expecting the college to promote change, we need to take action, too. Students love complaining, but often don’t lift a finger to change what’s wrong. Students had an awesome opportunity to do so at the dinner, as McAlpine wanted to know if the college is helping us reach our academic and career goals.
My answer is yes, although I took a risk by quitting my job in Brazil to study in Canada, paying five times more than domestic students. When I decided to study abroad, I visited colleges in BC and Ontario and didn’t find anything like the Print Futures: Professional Writing program, in which I’m now enrolled. The instructors who have been teaching for years at the college have made all my effort worthwhile. The program is demanding, but never before have I learned so much in such a short time.
Despite being sure that I made the right decision, I can’t say that everything at Douglas is perfect; it’s not. The college offers a great education, but why is it so expensive for international students? The library doesn’t have enough computers, and the changes in the library and Learning Centre seem to have limited the number of computers even further. The cafeteria’s products are too expensive, and so are the bookstore’s materials.
It’s good to see that at Douglas College, students have the chance to share their thoughts about the institution, their expectations, and their concerns. All the ideas discussed at the dinner will be analyzed by the board, and we students will be able to track their actions by visiting McAlpine’s blog (http://www.douglaspresident.ca). It seems McAlpine and Jensen are open to ideas, so if you have any, I encourage you to share with them. I’ll be doing the same.
The Dinner with the President gathers information for the strategic plan entitled Pathways to Success. Until 2015, Douglas College intends to be the largest and most progressive baccalaureate degree granting college in BC. It’s great to see that the college is moving forward; however, we students need to get involved, knowing what’s going on outside of class, seeking information on the college’s decisions, and demanding action.
We need to take part in activities, meet other people, and learn with them, enjoying this cultural mix that is Douglas College. If we don’t do it, we will have learned a lot about our future career, but nothing about each other. Is that enough?