According to a DP survey, most students support President Rodin, but few could evern identify Provost Barchi. Although the vast majority of Penn students approve of the job University President Judith Rodin is doing, most still don't think she makes herself accessible enough on campus, according to a recent survey conducted by The Daily Pennsylvanian. The survey of 290 Penn undergraduates showed that 87 percent of Penn students approve of the job Rodin is doing, but less than 19 percent of students have ever met her. The survey -- which has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.9 percent -- evaluated the accessibility and visibility of Penn's top administrators. More than 81 percent think that Rodin and Provost Robert Barchi could make themselves more available to students. And although Rodin's name is well known across campus, only 32 percent of Penn students could identify Barchi and just a little over 1 percent have ever met the University's chief academic officer. Still, Barchi and Rodin say they are far from huddled up in College Hall's Ivory Tower. "I spend a lot of time with students at meetings, at events and in informal conversations throughout the year," Rodin said in an e-mail statement. "It is often the best part of my day." "I frequently meet with a number of individual students and even entire classes to help sort out academic life and student-life issues," Barchi added in an e-mail. But students indicated that when Barchi and Rodin attend events, they are often formal meetings rather than broad-based discussions or staged visits to a college house rather than a spontaneous walk through campus. "I am sure they could be more accessible, but then again I haven't gone out of my way to meet them," College senior Janpaul Guzman. "But then again, I shouldn't have to go out of my way." But with more than 18,000 Penn students, Rodin said that when she is unable to meet with students, it's due to her busy schedule. "Time constraints are perhaps the most difficult part of my job," Rodin explained. "I spend a significant amount of time with students, and I always wish I could spend even more." And she added that "even at times when I am not spending time specifically with students, I am working to ensure that their interests and needs are met." Barchi also pointed out in his statement that besides his personally meeting with students, other administrators who report to him also have "solid working relations with undergraduates," such as officials in the Office of University Life and college house system. Still, more than 81 percent of the Penn students surveyed said meeting the provost or president is an important part of the Penn experience, and some students suggested that that Rodin and Barchi make themselves more available on a more informal basis. United Minorities Council Chairman Jerome Byam said, "[The administration's approach] is a top-down approach. Perhaps it should be a more bottom-up approach so that all students can feel connected -- not just student leaders." The College junior added that though "it's kind of fashionable to say that administrators don't care about student opinion, they showed they share that concern." And Penn Students Against Sweatshops member Miriam Joffe-Block, who claimed her group was repeatedly denied a meeting with Rodin last fall, criticized the president for not being easily accessible -- a charge which Rodin disputes. "At Michigan, for example, where they had similar sweatshop protests, the students' relationship with President [Lee] Bollinger was more collaborative," Joffe-Block, a College senior, said. "He seemed more responsive to their concerns from the beginning of their campaign." But Undergraduate Assembly Chairman Michael Bassik said that in his opinion, it is "the role of the UA to serve as that vital link between the student body and the administration." He said he has been pleased with the way that Barchi and Rodin have have made themselves extremely accessible to the UA.Comments powered by Disqus
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