A silver-painted shoebox labeled “suggestion box” sits on a bookshelf in the corner of C209. At the beginning of the year, All- School Council created the box after hearing complaints from students that their needs weren’t being addressed, but for now the box simply sits, gathering dust.
This suggestion box, like the one in Dr. Millar’s room for the 10th Grade and others in years past, rarely fulfills its purpose. In the eleven weeks since it was introduced, the box has yet to receive any suggestions. However, it isn’t for lack of complaints.
Downstairs by Café M, only two out of the five microwaves function. Students have known about the broken devices for weeks, but they begrudgingly stand in line for the two working ones because they don’t know where or to whom they should direct their complaints.
Students were also recently told about a new rule that ID cards are required for purchases at Café M. However, the line still clogs the exit every lunch period as students who’ve forgotten their ID cards instead spell out their names for the cashiers to enter into the computer. Why isn’t the new rule enforced? Where can students suggest ideas for improvement?
Clearly, there’s a disconnect in communication at our school. When faculty see problems in their classrooms, they have a list of email contacts to whom they can direct their complaints. English instructor Deborah Banner said that when she needed a new cork-board hung above her desk, she simply emailed the maintenance staff and they took care of it later that day. Mathematics instructor Melissa Banister reported that when her SmartBoard wouldn’t properly connect to her computer, she emailed the technology department and they fixed it the same period. However, students don’t have one centralized place to report their problems.
The City of New York found a solution to a similar problem on a grander scale. Seven years ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a 311 hotline for residents where they could, among other things, report non-emergency problems such as potholes or broken street signs. The hotline was a huge success in the city, allowing the people to directly communicate with the government about which problems they needed fixed.
We suggest a similar solution for the school. Rather than a hotline, we should implement an online suggestion forum on Haiku where all students can inform the school about small problems around campus. Students can “tag” their suggestions as maintenance, technology or All-School Council, and then Haiku can compile them into a weekly email sent to the proper contact. It’s a simple and quick solution, but it would make a noticeable difference. Haiku fixes all our other problems, so why can’t we let it fix this one, too?