Rountables Continue Effective Dialogue
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 02:10
The Hoya Roundtables, which were started by Chief Operating Officer Chris Augostini last fall, have continued to increase dialogue between students and faculty.
Augostini said he was inspired to create Hoya Roundtables after students who interned in his office during the summer of 2011 expressed interest in having more venues to communicate with university administration.
“They said to me, ‘We have to be candid. We don’t feel like we have an adequate amount of vehicles to engage the administration when there’s an issue we’re confronting,’” he said.
Augostini proposed Hoya Roundtables, an initiative that allows students to present their questions directly to administrators, at his first staff meeting in July 2011.
“The goal of the roundtables is very straightforward,” Vice President for Public Affairs Erik Smulson said. “They represent a new effort on the part of the administration to be responsive to the concerns of students.”
A total of five Hoya Roundtables were held last year, focusing on technology, sustainability, auxiliary services and facilities. 15 to 30 students attended each event, though turnout peaked at 100 for the roundtable on sustainability, according to university spokeswoman Stacy Kerr.
This fall, the university implemented ideas brought up in both the roundtable discussions and on IdeaScale regarding technology, including better printing services in Lauinger Library, more power strips in the library and expanded WiFi on campus, according to Augostini.
This year’s first roundtable discussion took place Oct. 15. Topics ranged from updating technology to revamping facilities, but the event mainly focused on student dissatisfaction with changes to O’Donovan Hall. Roughly 24 people attended, according to Kerr.
In response to the volume of student concerns about Leo’s, the university will hold a second roundtable discussion later this semester, focusing on food services and facilities because of the volume of student feedback regarding these topics.
In addition, the administration is developing a plan to gather feedback from students about the changes to housing and facilities that will be implemented as a result of the 2010 campus plan agreement.
Because of the roundtables’ recent popularity in the undergraduate community, the university will begin holding roundtable discussions for each of Georgetown’s graduate schools as well, according to Augostini.
Students said they are pleased with the direction the roundtables are headed.
“The opportunity to talk with top-level administrators in an open environment is … great,” Sam Greco (SFS ’15), a student who attended the Leo’s roundtable said, though he added that the events sometimes lack focus.
“More specific topics might encourage more students to come,” he said. “The fact that the meeting lasted nearly three hours, and the majority of students there only were concerned with Leo’s, might have deterred some from coming.”
Lydia Brown (COL ’15), another student who attended the Leo’s discussion, agreed that increasing participation in the roundtables ought to be a university priority.
“Roundtables are limited in their potential impact on the community,” Brown said. “When community members do not attend, and particularly when underrepresented groups of students attend only in small numbers … the comments made at roundtables will not adequately or accurately reflect the breadth and diversity of student experiences and perspectives.”
Augostini remains positive that Hoya Roundtables and other vehicles for communication, like IdeaScale, will continue to increase the administration’s transparency.
“We want the students to know that we don’t just sit behind walls. We’re not just behind a computer,” he said. “With these roundtables and other vehicles for communication, we want to a dynamic environment around the question of how can we always better serve.”