By Noah Manskar
Dean of Students Kimberlie Goldsberry offered students a free lunch and a chance to voice their opinions at the first Dine with the Dean event of the new academic year.
Goldsberry said she started hosting students for lunch regularly during her first year at Ohio Wesleyan in the fall of 2009 to learn more about student experiences.
Sophomore Emma Goetz took the opportunity to make her concerns about handicap accessibility to campus buildings campus known.
Goetz said she felt Goldsberry was receptive to her opinions.
“I thought she was really interested and she was very focused on what we were saying,” she said.
“I thought she was really nice. I was very impressed with her.”
Goetz said she did not go into the meeting with specific issues to address with Goldsberry.
However, she did make her concerns about handicap accessibility to campus buildings known during the meal.
Goetz said she is aware the problem solution’s is complex, but has faith the administration will handle it.
“It is expensive, but I feel like it’s something that should be done,” she said. “But I understand that it’ll happen when it happens.”
Goldsberry said students have brought a myriad of issues to her attention since Dine with the Dean’s inception.
“There’s a whole variety of things that come up,” she said. “There’s no script, there’s no agenda, so you don’t always know what they’re going to bring up.”
According to Goldsberry, she has often referred students to other university or city authorities to help solve their problems.
In the past, she took student concerns about lighting on campus streets to the Delaware Police Department and other city leaders.
She also referred a student with questions about the sulfur spring at Phillips Hall to the person who controls its activity.
Goldsberry said she cannot be everywhere and control everything, but she does her best to understand what is going on so she can have influence over it.
Senior Kamila Goldin went to Dine with the Dean last year as an ally for her friends Brian Trubowitz (’12) and Lauren Leister (’12).
She said the experience was “intimidating,” but that she understands the difficulties Goldsberry faces when helping students make change.
“She’s working with a lot of constraints and demands that we can’t see, so even though she’s open to hearing our suggestions, she’s very aware of all the limitations and restrictions which can come off as a little bit daunting and hopeless sometimes,” she said.
Goetz said she thinks a common student conception of university administrators like Goldsberry is that they’re not open to hearing student ideas.
She said if students believe that, it is because they don’t know Goldsberry.
Goldin said she thinks change can sometimes be difficult because of the administration’s institutional nature.
“I think that unfortunately the institutions tend to be pretty conservative, not that they don’t want to try new things, but they just tend to conserve orders that work,” she said.
“So if every idea that every student had was honored, the school would just be changing every year or every four years.
“I think that there’s a lot of inertia inherently built into the system, like the Senate, or like the House of Representatives. I think that even though the administration is very open and friendly it is still hard to make change, by no fault of any of the administrators. I feel like it’s just part of the system.”
Goldin also said the even distribution of power among administrative departments requires students to be especially diligent when making their voices heard.
“Power is really distributed, and so if you want to make a change you have to tackle a lot of different aspects of the administration; it’s not a single person,” she said.
“So it takes a lot of energy and a lot of focus and a lot of desire to kind of follow through and check up on people, make sure that they are still hearing what you want to say and that they’re following through and talking to who they’re supposed to follow through (with). Basically you have to have the initiative and the energy to keep your cause on the administration’s agenda and all the administrators’ agendas, and I think that there’s hardly a student who has that kind of time.”
Goldsberry said she tries to be “approachable” for students, so she keeps Dine with the Dean meetings small to allow everyone a chance to speak.
“Sometimes it makes them feel like they’re in a special place because there’s a lot of schools where it would be difficult to have that opportunity,” she said.
“We’re the size of community where we should be able to do that and I enjoy doing it and I hope they enjoy the experience.”
Goldsberry said she enjoys hearing positive things from students about their university experience along with their concerns.
“The good part is I hear about good things that are going on for them, being with students in those happy moments,” she said.
“Sometimes I’m with them in not their happiest moments, so I enjoy having those times.”
Goetz said more students should take advantage of Dine with the Dean.
“You hear students complaining all the time on campus but they never make concerns known in a productive manner,” Goldin said meetings like Dine with the Dean help form a healthier relationship between students and the university.
“The more human a face that the administration has and the more human a face the student body has to the administration, I think, the more change will happen,” she said.
“Because more people will buy into each other’s ideas and buy into the idea that things can change.”