Life of the student


Steve Klass didn’t expect so many students to join the mostly faculty and staff audience in a BSLC lecture room Tuesday afternoon at the town-hall meeting he led on “supporting student life in 2005.” So Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University, said he’d keep his talk general, not delving too far into the bureaucratic depths of administrative officialdom. Between jokes (a cold had rendered him “a walking Walgreens”), he compared the University today with five years ago, pointing out how student life has improved—and which areas still need help.

Not so long ago, Klass said, it “wasn’t uncommon for College alums to say they had a transformative experience here, but they would never send their kids or anyone they liked here.” So, he asked, what changed? In 1994–96 a faculty, staff, student, and trustee task force recommended the University focus more on students’ well-being. An outgrowth of that report, Klass’s office was created in 2001, he said, touching on “everything outside the classroom”—student services such as the bursar and registrar, lifestyle aspects such as residence halls and student activities, and “lots of affairs”—international affairs and minority affairs, for example.

After discussing racial, gender, and “spiritual” diversity (“We still have a long way to go to meet our aspirations in this area, but we have made some progress”); planned projects such as a new dorm; the rise in athletics and student organizations; improved career services; and recent computer-system upgrades, he took questions. They ranged in topic from kosher-food offerings to graduate-student health care to the dearth of campus dating. To the last he replied with a smile and a shrug, “I’m personally not dating any students,” before turning the topic over to other administrators in the crowd, who discussed sexual-harassment policies and programs. For those questions Klass couldn’t get to, he stuck around to talk one-on-one with a short line, mostly students.

By A.M.B.

February 16, 2005