If Alexander Enyedi had a magic wand, he would change anything a student disliked about Plattsburgh State. Instead, the president is meeting them first-hand across campus from now until the end of the semester to hear their stories, voices, interests and concerns.
“Over the next few months, I will meet as many of you as possible,” Enyedi wrote in a campus-wide email to students Jan. 27. “I am interested to learn why you are passionate about the college, what draws you to the work you do, and how we can continue to grow and thrive.”
Enyedi has already met a few students since the semester began, but true to his word, on Feb. 17, another email from the president contained a list of dates, times and locations where he plans to meet even more.
The Community H.U.B. hosted the semester’s second meet-and-greet Monday. For almost an hour, Enyedi introduced himself to every student in the H.U.B., asked them questions and listened to anything they had to say.
“Many students say to me, ‘Wow, you’re taking time to talk to me? Aren’t you busy?’” Enyedi said. “And I said, ‘This is my work.’ Students are our largest constituent. You’re the largest voice, and you have the most power.”
Students Michael Albert, Jadae Argro and Dyllan Green sat with Enyedi and discussed how small changes could make a big difference. Argro said she would want more diversity and inclusiveness surrounding events on campus.
“When it’s left up to the clubs and organizations to constantly do events that could bring us together, it’s kind of hard because we tend to only reach out to our communities,” Argro said. “I feel like if it was something the Student Association put together or the school overall, it would be more diverse and people would feel more comfortable coming.”
Sophomore nursing major Katelyn Dvorscak told the president what she liked about PSU when she first arrived — a sense of unity.
“When I visited, I liked the atmosphere,” Dvorscak said. “I felt like a lot of the private colleges I visited had this arrogant feeling about them, but I didn’t feel that here. I felt like everyone was sort of on the same page.”
Enyedi said one of his goals as president is to make PSU as diverse and inclusive as possible.
“But that simply means everyone [has to have] the ability to listen and hear perspectives,” Enyedi said. “Everyone has their own perspective. What we discover when we have these conversations is that we have a lot more in common than we think.”
In addition to campus unity, some students had concerns about the food. Nursing majors Davina and Danielle Gyedu told the president they had trouble finding options that fit their lifestyles, especially on the weekends.
“My sister and I are pescatarians, so we don’t really eat [red] meat,” Danielle Gyedu said. “For lunch or dinner, we don’t really have a lot of options when it comes to the Downer or walking all the way to Clinton.”
Junior social work major Ciarah Richmond expressed concerns about her department, explaining the professors’ experience didn’t always align with the branch of careers she wanted to pursue.
“Social work is such a broad topic, and some students want to do certain disciplines within the topic,” Richmond said. “If the person teaching me only did counseling, they’re teaching me from the counseling point-of-view, and I don’t want to be a counselor.”
The first scheduled meet-and-greet was Feb. 26 at Einstein’s in Hawkins Hall. The next meeting will take place Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Sundowner in the Angell College Center, where the president believes constant communication is key to a successful campus community.
“I know sometimes it feels like you’re not listened to,” Enyedi said. “I’ve had conversations before where students will say, ‘We’ve been telling this to you for years and years, and nothing seems to change.’ I appreciate that conversation. What I feel is that there are things that are going on that we’re not doing a good enough job at talking about and how they’re making an impact. If we’re not talking about it, no one knows, so it just feels like we’re living in a vacuum.”
Email Emma Vallelunga at firstname.lastname@example.org