Letter to the Editor: KPU staff and faculty should treat students better
Columns / March 25, 2020
I have been at Kwantlen Polytechnic University off and on for four years, and I have noticed a trend of students not just being affected by the stress of their course load, but also by the treatment they receive from some faculty and staff. This ranges from staff giving incorrect information and poor communication from the school as a whole, to a general lack of regard towards students by faculty. From my personal experiences as well as the ones that come up when talking to other students, I am growing concerned about how much of a problem this is becoming on campus.
I understand that universities are businesses, but they need to be careful about how they are treating their students. Universities are huge money-making machines, but they do not behave as service-based businesses usually do. They are in a position of power. Many students feel afraid of the repercussions of challenging authority after experiencing negative interactions, be it from an instructor who fails to provide a marking rubric, or staff that just shrug you off when they give you the wrong information or treat you like an inconvenience.
There are many amazing instructors and staff at KPU. Some go above and beyond their job requirements and are passionate about what they do. I have had some instructors that have changed my life. Instructors can do that. It might take encouragement from only one instructor or support staff to help you succeed, but the opposite can also be true.
Unfortunately, the side that seems to be growing is not the one that students need. Instead, it feels like more and more staff and faculty don’t seem to care — whether it’s because they have been doing the job too long or because of their own personal issues. Maybe it’s that they’re tired of the sheer number of students who are apathetic about their classes or education because, let’s face it, that does happen. But there still are and always will be students who are here to learn and grow.
To the faculty and staff, I urge you to consider this: This is your job. This is the responsibility that you signed up for, and it is a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. You are influencing which type or person we, the students, are going to be in our careers and in our lives. I understand that it’s not your job to hold our hands and make us complete our assignments, but being there to support our learning, putting the time it takes to give us full, clear instructions and being held accountable to consistent grading techniques is part of your job. I can understand that it’s frustrating when students do not keep up with their share in the class and it can lead to you losing your drive, but the students who end up suffering the negative consequences of this are the ones who love learning and want to make a difference. Doing less than your best is doing a disservice to them and to the job that you chose.
And to the staff, your job is to support students, not to judge them or make them feel unintelligent or lacking. We are not a burden. We are your reason for being here. Your actions and your interactions with us can have a lasting impact in our life, and whether they’re positive or negative is largely up to you.
Respect goes both ways. If these negative interactions continue to grow, not only will it be discouraging for the students, but also, it will have detrimental effects on all of KPU.
As students, we are paying a large amount of money to be here. This is not a favour that the school is doing for us. We are why the university exists. It is important for students to take charge of their education — because if we don’t, nobody else will.