Are You Being Served or Serviced?

Friends, lend me your ears, because what I am about to say may be painfully obvious to many of you, but sadly I fear that it is not. What I want to say to all of you is that we, and by we I mean all students here at Guilford College, is this: We are getting the short of end the stick and no one cares what we have to say about almost anything that goes on here at this campus.
Things change here at Guilford, but for the most part, the student body hardly misses a beat. The problem I have is that there have been many little changes over the years, and those small changes have put a bright light on what I believe to be a major problem at this school. Folks, no matter how valid your opinion might be about a campus issue, no one really cares and probably never will.
Why do I say this? Because the only things that change year to year are the excuses about why we have the same problems each year. What have student concerns been over the last few years?
Dining hall food? Every year I hear about how much better the food will be, but it never is. I heard this same promise in the last few weeks, but I don’t believe it. Why? Because the school has no interest in spending more money in food since they are forcing all students to buy into some form of a meal plan. Why improve the food when you can just force students to buy into the meal plan? Instead of giving students real choices, the school has boxed all students into a corner to possibly spend money they don’t want to spend and at the same time take away any motivation to make the food better.
Another change? How about our new security force? Sadly there is always going to be violence towards people and students need to be safe from all different types of hazards that exist on a college campus. So now we have a new security company that was hailed at the start of the year as a security team that was going to make this campus safer. There have been more officers and different uniforms, but I ask you this question: Do you feel safer on this campus?
This is not a case of the students being served, but a case of the school not serving its number one interest, their students. I read that Guilford uses other schools as models for setting its own policies. The problem with that is that we are not representative of any other school. We are Guilford; use the students, not outside institutions.
And do we students feel that we are being listened to? Do we feel that we actually have a real decision making role in this school? George Carlin once made the point that Americans are given the illusion that they are in charge, but really that is blatantly false. I believe that many of the people that work at this school try to convince students that they are being served, but that too is an illusion.
Are you familiar with all those meetings with the deans and office hours with the president? All of this is used to feed this illusion that we are being served. Freshman year, I went to these, but now I have grown so disenchanted that I feel they are useless.
It is this same illusion that is used to take away our liberties bit by bit. Changes to the handbook over the summer with minimal student input, changes to the meal plan, and new housing restrictions each year are all examples of ways this school reduces our liberty and they do this because they know no one is going to stop them.
Moreover, new people in newly created offices or in the same positions of some of their predecessors are not an effective solution in bridging the gap between the students and the school. I just keep hearing the same words, only each year they come out of different mouths. Simply put, it’s garbage in, garbage out.
Please do not mistake this for a personal attack on anyone, because that would be patently unfair to many of the people who work at this school. The problem I have is that to often the people who are supposed to serve the students are sucked up into a system that is already in place not meant to serve the students, but only restrict them.
So what can we do? The solution is very simple although unrealistic. If students are unhappy with the meal plan options, no one should sign up. Not happy with housing rules? No one should apply for housing.
They cannot punish all of us, its not feasible and if we hit them in the wallet, then they are forced not only to listen, but also to react to the student problems facing them.
Unfortunately, it is unrealistic because it is a cooperative community idea and it is hard to bring a community the size of Guilford together on one single issue.
That being said, if we as students allow our school to chip away at how we live our lives on this campus, then there is nothing preventing anybody from taking everything away from us. So when that day comes, it will truly be a sad day, but it is a day we should have seen coming miles away.
We might not be able to save the world right now, but we can all save our campus if we work together.