CSUN officials are developing a new student communication plan that will focus primarily on first-year students.
Vice President for Student Affairs Terry Piper and a graduate student began studying university-student communication within Student Affairs in February 2004.
Specifically, they began to look at how the university communicates with first-year students, according to Assistant Provost Jerry Luedders.
“We began to look at all the people who send (communications) to students,” Luedders said.
He said some university personnel claimed that students simply do not read the materials they were being sent.
“People were blaming students,” Luedders said.
“Maybe they’re getting too much from too many different places (at) too many different times,” he said. “Some communications are pages and pages of ‘text-dense’ writing, which is a lot of words to convey a simple idea.”
According to Nikki Scott, senior journalism major, the university does not do a good job communicating with students.
“The problem that I have experienced is that there is no communication,” Scott said. “The university needs to train people better.”
In addition, Scott said she has been given incorrect information on several occasions.
“They are confusing students,” Scott said. “We need to get proper advisement.”
CSUN has contracted Rogers and Associates, a strategic communications planning firm, to help develop and implement a new student communication plan.
The consulting firm has met with several university offices to take a closer look at how the university communicates with students.
Some of the preliminary findings were that students get the most satisfaction from coming to campus in person, Luedders said.
“The campus is going to have to rewrite a lot of its communication,” he said.
According to Barbara Goen, senior vice president of Rogers and Associates, the company conducted two student focus groups in May. The focus was on freshmen and transfer students completing their first year. In addition, international students were represented in the focus groups.
Goen said the questions focused on how the students transitioned into the university and the kinds of communication that assisted or did not assist in that transition.
“Ultimately, (the firm) will make some recommendations to us,” Luedders said.
The recommendations, which should be provided within several weeks, will highlight areas of university communication that need improvement, as well as determine what the university has done well so far.
The university wants to know, for example, whether communication in the form of a letter sent through regular mail is the best way to communicate.
“How do students get their communication these days?” Luedders said. “When can we send messages to students by e-mail?”
Luedders said the next step after receiving the recommendations is to develop a protocol to change the communication in terms of process and delivery mechanisms.
“I’m a student, I am already stressed out,” Scott said. “They should not make mistakes when it comes to my career.”
Luedders said the goal is to have components of the project implemented by Fall 2006.
“It will be a long process,” he said. “Communicating effectively is (a) high priority for the university.”