As a first-year student, I compare lots of my experiences here at RIT to my experiences while I was in high school. Between 9th and 12th grade I never really had a chance to share my opinion about my school and what changes I would have liked to see There was always a disconnect between the students and administration so the problems that students saw never really had a chance to be fixed. But now that I am on campus I’m really starting to feel like I can have my voice heard!
I grew up in Buffalo and went to a school with a graduating class of just over 100 students! I knew nearly every one of my teachers and classmates but I still never really got to feel like my opinion was valued by the school’s policymakers. Our cafeteria food wasn’t very good, the chairs in our school were not very comfortable, and I could count the number of clubs I could join on my fingers! All through high school, I had wished that there was a way for me to tell the school what I wanted to see from it but that never became a possibility and as a result, lots of the problems that I saw in my high school are still problems there today.
Here at RIT none of that is the case. I don’t just mean that RIT has hundreds of food options, comfy chairs, and 300+ clubs for me to join, but RIT has tons of ways for me to share what I think and then have my thoughts acted on! RIT’s student government is really involved in the decision making on campus and they have a website called PawPrints which is my go-to tool when I see something that I want to be changed. All I have to do is log in to the website with my RIT email account, describe what issue I see and how I want it to be fixed, and then the website shares my post with my friends and all the other students on campus! If those students and my friends agree with what I wrote they can digitally sign their name and help my petition grow. Once my petition starts to gain momentum and it reaches 200 signatures, my friends and I are promised a response from Student Government, and lots of times the response says that Student Government loves the idea and are getting to work on making it a reality! Some really cool features of RIT have come about thanks to PawPrints: the late night hours of our central library, our policy where professors have two weeks to give students feedback on their assignments, and even a banjo concert from the former RIT president!
Paw Prints lets students shape the face of RIT and it really makes every student’s voice count here on campus. Since arriving here as a First Year student in the Fall I have had an awesome sense of importance here and I am really excited to see what other changes happen over the next three years until I graduate.