Proposed MyVoice survey met with criticism from students

Maddie Liotta, Staff Writer

On Sept. 7, University President John Bravman sent out an email to all students about a new program called “MyVoice Bucknell Student Experience Survey.”

MyVoice is a “new initiative that … will be critical to identifying the most pressing challenges [we] face in [our] out-of-classroom experiences and generating real-world, feasible solutions to those issues,” Bravman said in the email.

The survey includes open-ended questions so that students can write as much or as little as they wish. Once completed, the survey data will be analyzed and the most pressing problems identified.

Student responses to the MyVoice initiative have been mixed; while the majority agree that the program has good intentions, some remain dubious about the survey’s effectiveness.

According to Dean of Students Amy Badal, “The survey will serve as a catalyst for dialogue on critical issues impacting our community.”

Many students saw this as a response to the “Conscience, Courage, and Community: Bucknell Responds to Injustice Today” event that was held on Sept. 6 to address social injustices that occur on the national level but affect the University on a local level. The discussion led to a call for increased efforts to form an inclusive community that respects the diversity and struggles of all students on campus.

“I think the MyVoice project will be a great way for people to speak up [who feel they] were overshadowed at previous diversity events on campus, though it won’t by any means be a guarantee that they are actually heard,” Alex Christensen ’18 said.

It is important to note that diversity is only a partial focus of the MyVoice survey.

Other students were more outspoken with their criticism of the idea–they wonder if it is just a meaningless addition to the traditional ‘advocate change, nothing happens’ trend that has plagued our campus and society in general.

“What’s the point of another survey? Maybe this is a big push–a quintessential survey that will redefine things in the future. This may be them trying to start fresh, but all I see right now is just another survey,” Guelmi Espinal ’18 said.

Matthew Jordan Alexander ’19 does not hold high hopes for the survey. “I see this as cathartic appeasement of how people are feeling–like the note cards they gave us at the event. Who is going to read these surveys? Who’s going to interpret them? ‘An action plan’ is a painfully simplistic path to change,” Alexander ’19 said.

Students also described how they have carved out their respective niches on campus, and how student-run groups have proven to be the best facilitators of the process.

“The best change I’ve seen is from the students and student-run clubs on campus–I’ve spent the past two years carving a place for myself on campus and I’m just now reaping the benefits of it.” Espinal said.

While the overwhelming sentiment linked the survey to the recent community discussion, the timing of these two initiatives is purely coincidental, as the Board of Trustees has been discussing implementing the survey since at least January of 2016.

“Results will reveal our strengths and highlight areas for improvement. I encourage every Bucknell student to take the time to complete the survey and share their voice,” Badal said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to better reflect the purpose of the MyVoice survey, and to include a perspective from the Dean of Students. We regret that this information was not included in our Sept. 16 print edition.


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