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Suresh’s inauguration a way to better campus culture

Earlier this month, Carnegie Mellon celebrated the inauguration of ninth president Subra Suresh with campus-wide festivities. In the context of Carnegie Mellon’s history, the beginning of Suresh’s time as president is a critical time of transition for the university.

The campus made incredible strides over the last few decades, and Carnegie Mellon has made itself an unquestionable pioneer in research and academia. Now, the school has an opportunity to focus inward and reflect with the inauguration of President Suresh.

The internal issues that the school has are clear to current students. There’s a lack of school pride; with exams, papers, and problem sets around every corner, students are often pushed to put their noses to the grindstone and forgo the social aspects and events that the school has to offer.

This tendency also produces alumni who don’t necessarily look back on the school itself with fondness.

Maybe the best indicator of alumni fondness is their lack of donations. According to the Carnegie Mellon Alumni & Reunion Giving site, for every $1 in endowment funds that Carnegie Mellon receives, our peers such as the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University receive $7.68, $9.96, and $11.50, respectively.

While the university makes a strong effort to land students their dream jobs, it needs to go further to ensure that students are cared for while at the university. The university initiated efforts to improve the campus culture with the series of town halls on stress, but those visible efforts have disappeared.

Though these overarching problems exist at Carnegie Mellon, the inauguration benefitted the students and faculty in a real way. In addition to celebrating Suresh, the inauguration did something else: It stressed the uniqueness and community of the school during the ceremony and celebrations. Student talent was also recognized during the campus celebration when they showed off their research, work, and service on the University Center’s second floor. These kinds of events should continue, since they foster a sense of community that isn’t currently present on campus.

But now is time for the school to realize the importance of everyone here: students, faculty, and staff. They are the heart of the university — the heart that is in the work — and they need to be treated with more care.

We can be pioneers in our endeavors and care for our own, simultaneously. Let’s make sure that as we usher in President Suresh, the university takes this time to put more focus on the well-being of students here, because that more than anything will foster pride in the university.