Posted December 5, 2012 by Gavin Telfer 

Student Input in Renovations

We are in the final stages of a major student center renovation at my institution. The process has been both fun and challenging at different points along the way. As the project is about to wrap up, I have had some time to reflect on how we got to this point. Specifically, I have been pleased with the way we involved students in all facets of the renovation. Here are some of my key recommendations from the experience.

Involve a diverse group of students in the process. We all have our involved students who we frequently rely on for input and assistance. By all means, it’s important to keep many of those students engaged in the renovation process. However, it’s just as important to get the opinions of students who may not be in leadership programs, student organizations, or work as student employees. To reach some of these other students, we posted plans and updates around the building, provided updates to the student newspaper, and made sure our building staff were aware of the renovation progress.

Utilize social media. We found Pinterest to be particularly helpful in gaining some feedback from students. Staff in our area built a board full of ideas for all sorts of aspects of the renovations. Students were asked to comment or pin things that they liked. Many of our student leaders also voiced their opinions via Facebook and Twitter. Some of that feedback directly affected decisions we made on the project.

Be transparent. Throughout the renovation process, we made sure to continue to keep students updated. We made sure our student and professional staff in the building knew about the progress of the space so that they could disseminate information to interested students. When we hit some roadblocks with timelines, we made sure that our Student Government Association knew why these issues had come up, and they were then equipped to relay that message to the student body. Being open with the students helped even the barriers we faced not seem that daunting.

How have you involved/are you involving students in the renovation process? What are your key ways to gather student input? What changes have you made as a result of student input?

Gavin Telfer

Gavin Telfer is the Associate Director of Student Involvement at Southern New Hampshire University.

Gavin grew up in Wisconsin, but has been at Southern New Hampshire University since 2008. In his current role, Gavin advises the Student Government Association as well as the Senior Events Committee. In addition, he supervises multiple student employment areas and operations within the Robert A. Freese Student Center. Gavin also coordinates aspects of orientation and assists with student leadership development efforts.

Comments

Great post Gavin! It's always great to get student feedback when making improvements for the student center!
Comment posted 12/06/2012 9:10 AM
A lot of the stories in our building exist because of student input and feedback - wouldn't want it any other way! I think it also helps when there are things we can't change, so that students understand the why and still feel that their voice was heard.
Jeff Pelletier
pelletier.12@osu.edu
Comment posted 12/06/2012 9:51 AM
Erin - thanks for the note. I am glad we were able to involve students so heavily in the process. The space is largely what it is because of their great ideas and input. Jeff - Great observation about helping students understand the "why." It's critical, yet it's easy to overlook.
Gavin Telfer
g.telfer@snhu.edu
Comment posted 12/06/2012 3:48 PM
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