A Message From Academic Affairs
As I have been reflecting upon the "Climate Survey," I was reminded that three years ago our students of color reported experiencing Augustana much differently than our white students. We will be conducting the survey again next year and I wonder if we will see changes in the responses of our students. Over the past three years, I have observed a number of initiatives designed to make Augustana a more welcoming place to live and I am curious to find out if our students noticed. The following excerpt caught my eye since I believe it accurately describes how change in general is accomplished: don't quit! As difficult and slow as change is, we really must not stop trying!
From the Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 26, 2008, to view click here.
Last semester I taught a young woman who is the first person in her family to go to college. The university has given her an opportunity. But we shouldn't stop there. We need to get her engaged in campus life, emphasize the quality of her undergraduate-teaching experience, and monitor her progress closely. Many low-income students lack the academic skills and social competencies that their better-educated peers take for granted. Many low-income students also lack the economic confidence that comes with never having to worry about money, from big-ticket items (such as tuition) to the unexpected smaller bills that accumulate in college. College textbooks, for instance, can easily cost over $100 per semester (rarely are these charges included in any school's tuition). Low-income students often experience the shock of these bills only a few days or hours before their first college class. Furthermore, professors who begin class assuming that all students own a computer and know how to post to a classroom blog only make low-income students feel more alienated and unable to compete with their peers. Even for students who arrive on campus well-prepared, willing to work hard, and blissfully unaware of tuition costs, college is no cakewalk. The social scene can alternate quickly between distracting and empowering, with distracting often winning the day. The weekly class schedule can appear deceptively free and open-ended. Roommate issues and dorm life can cause significant challenges now that both genders are sharing many of the same facilities. Most parents - even those with undergraduate degrees - would not recognize or understand how to navigate through the contemporary college environment. But the lesson should be the same for all children: Don't quit! It takes a village to raise a child, the proverb goes. In America, the village is made up of parents, teachers, administrators, and politicians. It's a rude analogy, but at least this much we can agree on: Higher education really is the great equalizer, but not enough low-income students matriculate into colleges, much less graduate.
Mark Franek is an adjunct professor of writing at Philadelphia University.
Dr. Evelyn S. Campbell
Dean and Vice President of Student Services