Late last spring, after learning that Rider University was listed on The Princeton Review’s list of most unhappy college students, The Rider News set out to prove the list wrong. As a group of students who were overall pleased with their Rider experience, our staff found it odd that our school could appear on such a list.
To our surprise, our pilot “Happy Poll,” conducted near the end of the spring 2014 semester, seemed to confirm The Princeton Review. We held off on publishing the results. Now, after further research and tweaking of the poll, The Rider News decided to give students before spring break another chance to express their feelings on being a Bronc.
The new results were, if anything, a little worse. Nearly a third of Rider students say they just aren’t happy. It should be understood that our poll wasn’t created to take shots at Rider but to unearth issues on both campuses and start a conversation to make them better.
The poll certainly doesn’t prove that Rider is making students unhappy. It shows that some are unhappy when they get here, and the school hasn’t found methods to make them happier. As members of the Rider community, we can’t ignore this fact. Your college years are supposed to be some of the most memorable, and there is no reason they can’t be at Rider University.
The chief complaints are about residence halls. While there are some state-of-the-art dorms like West Village and Moore, many of the older buildings on campus resemble minimum-security penitentiaries. Whether it is the prison cell-size living spaces or the beaten-down bathrooms, respondents to the poll are certainly not wrong to criticize the rooms in which we pay thousands of dollars to live. An update is long overdue; we’re talking about you, Poyda, Kroner, Conover … etc.
And residence halls are not the only thing that the administration could look to improve. Any student who goes to Rider is aware of the “suitcase school” mentality, where too many residents simply live on campus during the week but quickly pack their things up and head home for the weekends. It varies, but on some weekends, Rider resembles a ghost town.
If you don’t enjoy sports, singing competitions or theater, you might just be out of luck. While it is assuredly difficult to cater to the whole community’s interests, Rider could broaden the volume and spectrum of events. Events such as Relay For Life pull students together and create a stronger bond in the campus community, all for a good cause. Similar community-building events with a larger social purpose could offer students more reasons to stay on campus after their Friday classes.
Although Rider has several areas to study and possibly improve, The Rider News staff agrees that much of the blame falls on the shoulders of students. Many comments in our survey reflected a mentality that unless you are involved with Greek Life or athletics, there is nothing to do. Not true.
The staff of The Rider News, some of whom are transfer and commuter students, can tell you if you want to make friends or feel like you belong on this campus, you need to put in some effort. For many of us, before we became members of The Rider News, we would sit in our dorms all day and wonder why we never had anything to do. Becoming involved in a Rider club or activity is an amazing way to forge relationships and keep you busy throughout the year.
Starting is as easy as just attending a club’s meeting or event and talking to new people. This campus is an amazing community, but you won’t feel a part of it if you don’t exert effort.
If you were looking for a party school, you probably didn’t do your research; try West Virginia or Arizona State. You might think Rider’s alcohol policy is pretty strict, but the administration is responsible for keeping every student safe, and rules are rules. So our question to you, the reader, is this: You might be unhappy with your Rider experience, but have you done anything to change that?
While the results of the “Happy Poll” may have implied some deficiencies in the Rider experience, many students agree that Rider offers an incredible education. Across the board, respondents of the poll gave high rankings to academics and professors.
As a senior graduating in May, I can say that I have been given an excellent education and the tools necessary to be successful in my post-Bronc career, and I know I’m not the only student who feels this way. The quality faculty of this university is what makes this school so great. That’s why we all came here to get a quality education, not to get drunk every night — right?
In the end, Rider is a great institution. It might have some flaws and unhappy students, but that isn’t all the school’s fault. While some changes might be put into effect to increase the overall happiness of students, a lot of their unhappiness could easily be solved by getting out and getting involved.
The results of this poll should be a call-to-arms to the administration. While the unhappiness on campus is not administrators’ fault, they could play an important role in finding out more and developing ways to increase well-being on both campuses. Find those unhappy students and help them make their Rider experience one to remember.
The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Executive Editor, Christopher Brooks.
Printed in the 04/15/15 issue.