Thursday, February 25, 2010

(Mis)Communication at PTS

At the SGA meeting two weeks ago, we were told at the beginning of the meeting we would discuss communication issues at PTS. However, there was a miscommunication and the requisite administrators were not in attendance, so we could not carry on the discussion. However, one administrator was there, and we had to apologize to her for the miscommunication and her inconvenience in attending.
Fast forward to yesterday; we were told at the beginning of the SGA meeting that we would be discussing communication issues at PTS, and this time the requisite administrators were in attendance. However, as soon as we began the "discussion," it quickly devolved into a shouting match with half-raised hands timidly going unacknowledged, while others made points that were interesting and valid yet were not taken seriously amidst the general din.
Now, besides the irony supersaturating this scene, upon reflection this revealed to me the much bigger problem with communication here that won't be solved through technology: most people don't take the time to truly listen to other people and try to understand their positions and the implications of those positions. Instead, when listening, people (and I certainly include myself in this category) hold so tightly and fixedly in their mind their own opinion on the issue at hand that they don't actually hear what the other person is saying at all, except to the extent to which it agrees or disagrees with that fixed mental position.
Now, this became a practical problem when certain suggestions that were offered fell on deaf ears, particularly the idea of using Facebook as a method for disseminating information. New studies show that "sharing" information through social networking sites is becoming an increasingly important medium for gaining and accessing information. If this suggestion is not taken seriously, I can't but critique the administration for failing to move with the flow of technology - to the end that events and lectures are less well attended, with the effect that the school suffers damage to its reputation when they invite speakers and no one shows up. I also think that disseminating information through a site like Facebook (such as a group where everyone joins, therefore only those who are actually interested in receiving updates and event invites will get them, and otherwise it's the person's choice not to be bothered) will result in a greater diversity of those attending lectures, including all aspects of diversity. This means that a speaker is not speaking merely to a niche audience who mainly already agrees, but that true dialogue might be opened up as those with vastly differing viewpoints are in attendance. This might be utopian, yes, but that doesn't make it any less important.
A final suggestion would be for the SGA to create a blog. The benefits of doing so would be that SGA could control who has access to adding information to it (such as administration, SGA elected officials, and student group leaders), but also students could easily add blog updates to a news feed type program (such as Google reader) and easily get updates to the blog, and be able to easily add events to personal electronic calendars.
One last P.S.- I really liked the idea, from either Grant Wadley or Ben Thomas (I think both agreed on it) to have a school newspaper. Although it's too late for me and other graduating students, I think it would be a fun and engaging medium that could unite our community in dialogue and awareness.
Thanks for making it through this long post, hopefully I communicated clearly ;).

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