Monthly student forums encourage open dialogue
From her first visit to Virginia Tech as a candidate, through the initial establishment of her administration, and now well into her second year as Vice President for Student Affairs, Patty Perillo has actively sought out students’ opinions and insights.
“Our partnership with students is a two-way street,” said Perillo. “Students’ experiences and views are important to me. I couldn’t do my job without their input.”
To that end, Perillo hosts open student forums, the first Wednesday of every month, 5 to 6 p.m. in Squires Student Center Cardinal Room. There is no agenda for the meetings, and any topic is up for consideration. There is food to share, usually pizza and cookies. The mood is informal, comfortable, welcoming, and fun. There are jokes and stories. The talk evolves naturally.
“These forums are a chance for us to come to the table in fellowship, as members of the community, and have honest, true conversations about ways to make our community better,” said Perillo. “It’s the perfect opportunity for students to ask questions, raise issues, and identify solutions in a way that can help affect change.”
There have been several instances when student input from the forums has resulted in action. It was a student who suggested expanding Dining Services offerings to include a gluten-free line in D2. Students also made the case for more study spaces during finals, especially more late night availability of study space. As a result, the Division of Student Affairs opens more venues for study in the student centers and extends hours in select dining centers during finals.
“Every voice is heard,” said Perillo. “It’s all about making connections, understanding each other’s perspectives, and solving problems.”
Perillo said everyone is welcome to attend. The student forums are open to all undergraduate and graduate students. Free dinner is provided. Student forums for the 2014 spring semester are scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month on the following dates:
- Wednesday, Feb. 5, 5-6 p.m., Cardinal Room, Squires Student Center
- Wednesday, March 5, 5-6 p.m., Cardinal Room, Squires Student Center
- Wednesday, April 2, 5-6 p.m., Cardinal Room, Squires Student Center
- Wednesday, May 7, 5-6 p.m., Cardinal Room, Squires Student Center
Students are also welcome to drop by Perillo’s office in 112 Burruss Hall during open office hours.
Written by Sandy Broughton.