On Tuesday, Jan. 24, the University of Connecticut announced that all bus traffic on Gilbert Road, including four bus stops, would be closed starting Feb. 1, and new detours would take effect that day. The closing and detours came as a result of the construction of a new residential complex and dining hall near South campus; however, this announcement was made via Twitter on an account called UConn Transportation — an unverified account with only 108 followers. The tweet has been viewed fewer than 1,000 times and there has yet to be an official email from the university informing students of this change to the bus routes.
The lack of official communication from UConn on a change that will affect many students is just the latest in a long trend of mediocre communication from the university. The extent of communication from the university comes through the form of emails that fail to properly inform students of recent administrative actions and decisions that will have an impact on them.
This lack of communication at the university has been evident across multiple departments and groups over the past year. One of the major communication breakdowns occurred last April during the aftermath of a stabbing that occurred at Hilltop Apartments. Residential Life didn’t release any official statements in the wake of the incident, which led to the student body being uninformed and fearful about the events that took place. Despite Director of Residence Education Amy Crim claiming that ResLife had developed an “enhanced communication procedure” in the wake of the event, this procedure has seldom been used and seems to be merely a guise for the department to defend their mistakes. At the time, the Editorial Board pointed out UConn’s need to improve its communication strategies in the name of student safety, yet no visible changes occurred.
But no other institution at UConn has been more lacking in its communications than the board of trustees. During the selection process for university president, there was little communication from the board except for an occasional email. This resulted in a lack of transparency in the process and an overall lack of awareness among the student body of the process, which the Editorial Board noted after the appointment of Radenka Maric as university president. A similar storyline occurred when Anne D’Alleva was appointed as university provost in December, as there was even less communication during her appointment procedure.
Finally, the dramatic fee raises approved by the board of trustees last semester was preceded by a Daily Digest announcement of two hour-long town halls for community members to give feedback. With barely two days advance to hear about and proliferate news about proposed fee changes, graduate and undergraduate students were left virtually unable to make a meaningful showing to the town halls and express their opposition to the drastic increases. As such, poor communication is a reflection of a larger lack of democracy; if the community is not directly involved in decision making, why do they need to be notified about policy changes?
UConn continuously isolates a student body that is not only under informed about university policy decisions, but is rightfully skeptical and untrustworthy of the institution. In order to regain this trust, The Daily Campus Editorial Board calls for a renewed effort to improve communication with the student body. Improved communications will create a culture of transparency and will show that UConn is making an effort on behalf of the student body. Such improvements may include giving students more notice for important university decisions; restructuring the Daily Digest interface to highlight major institutional changes; and taking comprehensive public awareness strategies as was the case prior to the switch to Google Duo two-factor authentication — students will be hard-pressed to forget the flood of signs and fliers advertising that change. But if changes don’t occur and communication from the university continues to be lackluster, the Editorial Board encourages students to hold the administration accountable to its basic duties.