August 1, 2014
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Getting it straight from the Wolf’s mouth Podcasts, PR musings

RIT Student Government President Ed Wolf recently paid a visit to Studio 86 to talk about RIT’s past, present and future (as he sees it). What I’ve enjoyed most in talking with some of RIT’s student leaders—including Ed and, last year, former Reporter magazine editor in chief Jen Loomis—is their frankness.

As good as other Studio 86 guests have been, it’s refreshing to hear people tell it like it is—and nobody does that better than students. And I enjoy drawing it out of them by asking pointed questions that might expose a few “warts” (but that ultimately help make RIT better).

For example, I asked Ed: “Where does RIT need to improve?” He was very articulate in his response, depicting positives (such as RIT’s student focus and growing school spirit) and negatives (student-housing challenges) currently facing RIT, as well as in sharing his sentiment that he likes, but doesn’t necessarily love, RIT. “I’ve liked my time here,” Ed said, “and I think a lot of students are starting to warm up to that—that it’s OK for you to not love the school, but to like the school. And that’s OK.”

How many other universities have the gumption to share that? As I stated on the podcast, “I truly believe, as most thoughtful people would, that constructive criticism can ultimately improve RIT.” Ed agreed, saying, “We can make this place just that much better.”

I alerted my bosses to the candor they would be hearing on the podcast, expressing my belief that such transparency serves to increase the credibility of RIT—and that of RIT University News as a news organization (not merely a public relations office).

To Bob Finnerty’s credit, his response: “I agree with your points. Good stuff.”

All of this said, I confess there’s more we can “get away with” on a podcast—and, for that matter, here on this blog—because of smaller audiences. Would we print a headline in News & Events saying “Student Government Prez Doesn’t Love RIT”? Of course not. But I challenge you to identify another university—anywhere—that’s as open as we are. I don’t think you’ll find one. But don’t take that to mean everything is hunky-dory everyplace else. Instead, take it to mean they just don’t have the guts to say otherwise.

Have a great weekend and fall/winter break!

 

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