On Monday, Feb. 18, in the first and only River Campus town hall this year, University President Joel Seligman addressed members of the UR community. Touching on hot issues like College Town and off-campus night life, Seligman spoke candidly and, at times, off-the-cuff entirely. More importantly, he seemed to genuinely care about what students had to say, for better or worse. Why don’t we have more of these meetings?
UR’s town halls allow virtually anyone to meet with Seligman on a face-to-face basis. That’s awesome. In what other setting can students meet with the president of their university? Not many, especially in a town hall setting where audience participation isn’t just allowed, it’s encouraged.
Unfortunately, due to a seeming lack of student interest, the University has recently curtailed town halls to an annual affair. Previously held several times throughout the year, town halls have dwindled in attendance, with only a handful of pissed-off student groups present. Despite modest turnouts in the past, Seligman intends to meet with undergraduates at least twice a year in the future, according to his office. Hopefully, the turnout at the last meeting foreshadows the future.
While the town hall is a fantastic idea in theory, it remains only that unless students take advantage of this unique opportunity. The University is receptive to new ideas, but it needs to hear them first before action can be taken. Communication is important, but it’s a two-way channel that requires active participation on both sides.