I’ve been involved in dialogues with administrators in a variety of capacities on campus: I was a House Chair of Noyes my sophomore year, so the Dean of Students was my boss. Then I was a Music Discipline Student Educational Policies Committee representative my junior year, before CAPA was built and before students on campus really knew what it was about. I’m a senior now, and as an Admissions intern, the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid is my boss.
My overall experience with the administration is that they take their responsibility to Bennington College—students, alumni, staff, faculty—very seriously, and that their main concern is making sure things run smoothly and effectively for all of us. They want Bennington College to grow and prosper, and when you have to make decisions that have to take into account 700 different views of what education should be, your decisions are terribly complex, and they matter. If you ask me, that is an impossible job, but somehow it gets done around here, and in my opinion it gets done well.
Sometimes I have felt neglected or ignored, but I can’t say that is the objective truth. The difficulty in answering this question is it deals with current students’ perception of how the administration does their job. The thing is, people can complain in ignorance; a suggestion for how to change things here might work for a term, or even two terms, but the administration has to discern between temporary adjustments in comfort, and lasting initiatives that will help Bennington grow in the eyes of its community in the world as well as its students.
I love going here because people can’t help taking ownership of their lives at Bennington from every aspect imaginable. That instinct can carry over into thinking about how to improve the way things run here, which I applaud, and I’m always impressed when I hear someone is going in to talk to Liz Coleman or one of the Deans during their office hours. But I think a lot of people who complain about the administration could put more thought into the bigger picture of what it means to run a large educational non-profit, such as a college. The main thing to take away from this post is this: in any grand overarching issue, people will complain, and some will complain in an informed, articulate way. But unless you learn the way any infrastructure already functions, what its purpose is and who it serves to what degree, it’s hard to make the case that things should change.
I think the administration does a good job.