Should the President be in Residence?

President of Atlanta’s Morehouse College, David A. Thomas, wanted to understand how it felt to be one of the 730 new students arriving on campus. So, he did the most logical thing: he lived like a freshman for two days, lodging in the same dormitory many of his students lived in.

Not every president gets to have that one-on-one connection that allows them to really know how students are living. This experience gave Thomas that chance. Should USF attempt a similar experiment? Can you imagine Father Fitzgerald knocking on your dorm room’s door telling you to turn your music down?

The Foghorn staff appreciates any attempts by senior leadership to better understand the lives of students, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we want to see them in our dorms. That being said, it’s an intriguing idea. Maybe not the University president, per se, but we think it would be interesting if some USF senior leadership stayed in a dorm room for a few days. We know that the Board of Trustees goes on retreats, like to the newly purchased Star Route Farms in Bolinas. We think a few nights in a residence hall would be an innovative idea.

Hopefully by living in the dorms for a limited period of time, the senior leadership would start to understand what incoming freshman students go through, such as feeling like space is limited or that they’re just another student, rather than an individual. It would at least provide an opportunity for them to be more student-oriented and show students that senior leadership is invested in them. A lot of the student body would appreciate the experiment, knowing that at least someone in the administration understands what it is like to live in a dorm, even for a limited period of time.

Another idea that would not require the senior staff to necessarily sleep in the dorms would be having more open forums and discussions between the administration and students about on-campus experiences. We are adults and are able to have conversations with the staff without needing them to literally live with us.

While we all may chuckle at the idea of Father Fitz living it out in a Gillson triple, there are those of us who think it may be a worthwhile experiment for the administration to build more empathy towards the student body.

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