by Kathryn McCarthy / Staff Writer
How do peer cultures and institutional priorities intersect at Salem State University? These two topics actually intersect quite a lot. It has been very interesting to think about how the institution looks as certain aspects of Salem State and how they can help their student succeed.
“The Structure of Schooling, Readings in the Sociology of Education” by Richard Arum discusses certain aspects of college life and how many can look at college and their overall success. “The best predictor of success was whether there was a good fit between a given student’s resources and agendas, and the structure of the university,” according to the text.
As you can see, they are stating that they best way to succeed in college is making sure you find that “best fit” for you and the school can give the proper support that is necessary. “Regardless of what they might want, students from different class backgrounds require different things,” the text added. When we talk about these ideas we also need to look at race and cultural backgrounds. It’s very interesting to think about how we “should” look at certain schools and what they can offer, compared to what we “can” look at and what we want to look for in certain schools.
The text also talks about college and what the experience is like as closely as possible by asking students their opinions on certain aspects of their schools. “About 85 percent of freshman students live in residence halls. Students think of residence halls as student dominated space and their rooms as their own private space. Despite this perception, adult institutional authority that monitors student behavior in residence halls is always present in the form of resident assistants who report to university personnel and who are responsible for monitoring the activities of students and enforcing the rules specified by the university administration. But resident assistants are not perceived by most students as adults or as having a great deal of authority over them. It is true that adults rarely visit their residence hall rooms or even traverse the hallways,” according to the text.
This concept is fascinating to think about because as a commuter student, I visit the dorms very rarely and do not feel connected with that aspect of college life. And this idea is a huge problem on our campus.
The biggest topic I think SSU needs to discuss is the community relations between residence students and commuter student and the cohesion for all of SSU.
When we discuss what topics and ideas SSU students value, I decided to go to Facebook and ask friends — what do you value as a Salem State student? Many of them stated “affordability and professors are the most important things to me!,” “I really love how affordable SSU is and I feel like my professors really care about my well-being and my academics…these were both serious contributors for me choosing SSU.” Also, we have a “historic setting of an institution with a long-term reputation. My niece and nephew are both alums and one even went on for a graduate course for a semester. I was amazed at the sense of community after experiencing NU (my alma mater). Had a more intimate feel. Very supportive environment.”
As you can see from current students to alumni, they talked about that sense of a great academic experience because of the credibility of the school.
What kinds of attitudes and behaviors are normative for SSU? After asking and surveying many people I know from school about what their attitudes are, many have said the sense of diversity and community do well to how small the school is in size.
When picking a school, people need to think about what resources the school can offer them. SSU is made up of a wide range of people. Primarily people from local towns and cities and a huge population of commuter students. That can ultimately make many feel the sense of community, but many do not see that.
Many say with the diversity growing within the school, the students are learning much more about diversity and how to work with those changes and grow from their experiences. SSU is also known as being more liberal, and when certain issues arise, we as a school can show support or dislike for that and produce productive conversations.
When we are able to relate these topics to social class, in particular, how do they intersect with institutional characteristics and experiences at SSU? It is very interesting to think about how you can relate these topics to social classes. I can defiantly see the different social classes within certain groups of students here and how different kinds of people relate to each other– from fraternities and sororities, sports team and clubs, academic groups, art and theater groups, and residence and commuter students.