Business school does not adequately value input from students

Image By: Katie Scheidt and Katie Scheidt

On Thursday March 15th, Business School Interim Dean Gerhart invited student leaders, including the Undergraduate Business Council President, the ASM Business School Council Representative, and myself to a follow up meeting regarding a student advisory committee.

Our voices were not respected in this meeting. Dean Gerhart refused to read the policy brief we had carefully put together and immediately rejected the notion of regularly meeting with students. After we suggested pursuing this committee with a business administrator who perhaps had more time, Gerhart all but rejected this idea as well.

This was an awkward meeting - Gerhart brought us all to his office and then failed to prepare specific reasons as to why this committee would not work. Simply, he was not interested in undergraduate students.

The School of Business decided that they were doing “good enough” when it came to collecting student feedback. As a business school student myself, I could not disagree more.

Shared governance is the decision-making engine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ensuring that student voice is included on all campus decisions that impact us. This structure is the best way to ensure that student voice is included in campus conversations. Currently, there are over 70 committees campus wide that welcome the voices of over 200 students. The business school has zero.

While different schools and colleges within the University of Wisconsin-Madison have different levels of shared governance involvement, it only takes one administrator who cares about student voice to create a shared governance committee.

Most recently, administrators including Laurent Heller (Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration), Jeff Novak (Director of Housing and Dining), and Steve Cramer (Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning) created advisory committees when approached by passionate students. They immediately recognized the mutual value created through regular communication between students and administrators.

As a graduating business student, I am not surprised by Dean Gerhart’s quick rejection of this small ask.

In fact, the business school forgot to include student shared governance in the selection process of Dean Gerhart in the first place.

As the ASM Shared Governance Chair, I could not be more disappointed by the reception we received.

On every decision- making committee across campus, administration needs to be including student voice in the conversation. The Business School is not doing their duty to their students.

For the Wisconsin School of Business to achieve success in the future, it is essential that leadership is making a greater effort to include student voice in campus initiatives and regular conversation. It is critical that student shared governance is being taken seriously.

Deena is the ASM shared governance chair. She is currently a senior majoring in management and entreprenuership. What are your experiences with schools’ receptiveness to student voices? Send comments and experiences to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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