By: Phillip M. Church, associate professor in Theater
What a lovely welcoming gesture for returning students and students arriving at FIU for the first time – a parking ticket slapped to the windscreen!
Yes, on Monday, Aug. 25, the first day back – and for some an intrepid first-time dealing with traffic pressures and classroom locations and schedules and frenzied payments and late financial aid and registration and far-from-friends-and-family and following a weekend of chaotic dorm move-ins – six cars sit, lined up at 7 a.m. in Parking Lot 6A.
[They are] admittedly double parked beneath a No Parking sign, yet each sporting the ubiquitous parking ticket beneath their wipers – as if the traffic could not wait for 8 a.m. on the first day of class to begin prosecuting students for what is, to everyone’s estimation at FIU, a parking nightmare.
Retention? How on earth can we even begin to improve falling retention rates when we greet our students in this manner on the very first day of the “best years of their life”?
Why can the traffic and police departments not demonstrate courteous civility by issuing warning notices and giving students, current and new, a second chance at getting it right? Why do we have to begin strongarming students on their first day at school?
Why can we not start out on a different foot with a different step? Bigger and better? Unfortunately, in some areas of university life, not so. Come on FIU – stop being so punitive. Treat our students and guests on campus in civil ways and let’s see a brighter future in which our students desire to remain members of a family and as a consequence set the retention figures in the opposite direction.
The one is connected to the other. Collectively we need to believe this.