About 40 students crammed into Java Junction for a question and answer time sponsored by Student Senate last Friday, Feb. 11 at 4 p.m.
Bill Born, Vice President of Student Life, invited students to ask any questions regarding administration or campus life issues. Resident Directors Chad Coleman, Heather Goertzen and Jake Shipe were also present to respond.
Several issues addressed by students were violations (on and off campus), library hours, campus security, commuter student involvement, the role of the police on campus, the RFC pool and the closing of three small group houses.
One significant topic was campus security and the current locked doors. A number of students expressed the hassle of opening locked residence halls for those without a key. Others wondered how long the doors will remain locked.
Born addressed that the doors will continue to be locked until mid-term break at the earliest. However, swipe cards for residence halls and other buildings are being seriously considered for the future. These cards would provide a history of which buildings students have entered.
“It was helpful to hear that the administration understands how important safety is by keeping the dorm doors locked, but they also realize that it's a big hassle for many students,” said Matthew Amstutz, a sophomore who attended the meeting.
Another topic that surfaced was the apparent increase of alcohol-related violations on and off campus last semester. Some students wished for clarity for the reasons of the frequency of the violations.
“These violations do not necessarily mean that there have been tighter restrictions from RAs or RDs,” responded Coleman. “It is more due to the frequency of student participation [in alcohol-related situations.]”
The question and answer forum emerged from the desire for students to voice their opinions in issues that directly affect them. Student Senate organized the event. The senate consists of Chagan Sanathu, a junior; Melissa Zehr, a sophomore; Mary Bachman, a junior; Luke Zehr, a sophomore; Kristen Steiner, a senior; Bethany Yoder, a senior and Quinn Brenneke, a freshman.
“We hoped that this would attract a more diverse group of people to the event and that it would encourage students to talk about what matters most to us as students on this campus,” said Luke Zehr, parliamentarian of Student Senate.
Throughout the meeting, Born offered free Java drinks to any student participating. He even joked that the forum could be called “Happy Hour.”
Given positive feedback from students about the event, Student Senate hopes that these types of meetings may become more of a regular occurrence to benefit communication between students and the administration.
“I appreciated the turnout and the various questions regarding campus life. It is clear students are interested in their opportunities and experiences. It's always good to get together and hear from one another,” said Born.