Speak Up event hears student concerns

Students submitted questions to Bradley administration and staff members about campus issues at Student Senate’s annual Speak Up event Monday night in the Student Center Ballroom. The following is a summary of the formal Q-and-A portion of the event.

Q: What is being done to promote school spirit?
A: Vice President for Student Affairs Nathan Thomas said promoting school spirit is a student initiative and students, in particular Student Senate, have done a tremendous job in this area. Thomas said the administration is working with various campus leaders to create more student-led initiatives, but stressed that promoting school spirit is an ongoing issue and not something that can happen overnight.

Q: Is there anything being done about the lack of “Gen Ed” sections offered? Every semester I struggle to find open sections for required classes. Is this due to lack of funding for departments and staff?
A: Kelly McConnaughay, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the general education curriculum has been revised. Starting fall 2016, Bradley will switch to the “Bradley Core Curriculum.” This new curriculum will not prescribe 12 courses and will have greater curricular flexibility as a result. She said she hopes the new curriculum will make it easier for students to make their schedules and also help them make their general education requirements “resonate” with their majors and minors.

Q: Why isn’t laundry free? Why do the washing machines in St. James only accept quick cash? Most students in St. James no longer have QuickCash.
A: Thomas said the administration talked about what it would look like to have free laundry, weighed it against the cost and found that it wasn’t something they believed would add value to offset those additional costs. He said they also discussed how the laundry machines would be operated: QuickCash or coins. They decided the cost of laundry and maintaining the machines was offset by going to strictly QuickCash.

Q: Recently, the amount of free printing available to civil engineering and construction majors has been limited. As students, we are promised free printing, and part of our tuition goes to our printing. Lab fees have increased dramatically. Why are printing privileges being limited? Why is this system put in place after students abused the privilege instead of revoking the privilege of those who abused it? And why do engineers have to pay for taking over 16 hour credits when we have to graduate on time?
A: Lex Aker, the dean of Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology, said that a surcharge is common and that Bradley’s surcharge is lower than peer institutions. The surcharge has helped buy new equipment and increase the sustainability of the college’s infrastructure. Aker said there was an investigation into printing abuses, and as soon as the investigation is concluded, access to free printing will return. He said he did not know why engineers had to pay for taking over 16 credit hours.

Q: Why has the Wi-Fi been going out so much lately? It seems to be happening more frequently.
A: Nial Johnson, executive director of Instructional Technology and Media Services, said the administration is aware of the issues associated with the network and is taking step to address them. ITMS is creating a student survey that will help them better understand the concerns and needs of students. “We need to have data to understand what’s going on,” Johnson said. “We need students to participate in the survey and to call the Technology HelpDesk if they have a problem with the network.”

Q: What is the plan of action for J- term study abroad trips after the recent events in France and the Middle East?
A: “There are assessments that are ongoing as to whether or not those trips will take place,” Thomas said. “There is a lot that has to play out with this. This will be an ongoing process to determine what is the best course of action to take regarding student’s safety. Right now, I think it’s too early to have an answer.”

Q: Why are we focusing on athletics to improve enrollment when, as a high quality university, we should be more focused on improving academics (such as the Physics Department)?
A: Justin Ball, the associate vice president for enrollment management, said the university has made major shifts in regard to its marketing. Be Brave marketing material, which some people associate with athletics, has been dropped and replaced with material that emphasizes the academic prestige of Bradley, according to Ball. He said their new promotional statement focuses on how Bradley is a midsized university, where students have large university options but being small enough to offer individualized academic advising and small class sizes.
Chris Jones, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the physics department is working hard to improve itself. “We have increased tutoring and office hours,” Jones said. “We’re going to do more serious changes like reducing the sizes of introductory courses and looking for new curricular paths, trying to open up the curriculum to make it more doable to do a major and minor.”

Q: Why is the Department of Music operating in below average facilities? Dingeldine Hall is deteriorating.
A: Jeffrey Huberman, dean of the Slane College of Communication and Fine Arts, said they are working on improving Dingeldine Hall but emphasized that it is a very old structure and takes a lot of attention. He pointed to the renovation of Constance Hall as a sign of their commitment to improving their buildings. Huberman said their long term plan is a new performing arts center, and they are looking forward to an upcoming campaign where they can realize that.

Q: What does the greek life office plan to do about the high rate of sexual assaults that take place at fraternity houses and parties?
A: Nancy Schwartz, assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said they are working with Student Support Services, the Wellness Program and the Bradley University Police Department to educate the greek community on how to be engaged bystanders.

Q: What are your thoughts on the protest today? How are you going to make Bradley a more welcoming place for students of color?
A: Interim President Stan Liberty said Bradley strives to maintain an open dialogue and constructive conversations about issues regarding race. He said if students have any concerns about campus or suggestions on how to improve the university culture, they should bring them to the attention of the appropriate student leaders or university administrators. “We are a university of free speech and academic freedom,” Liberty said. “We recognize that we’re going to have differences of opinion and perspective that we’re going to wish to express and discuss. That is welcome because we know at Bradley those discussions are going to be conducted with genuine respect.”
What are you doing to make LGBTQ students feel more comfortable around campus and in the classroom?
A: Norris Chase, executive director of Diversity and Inclusion, said his office is talking with the administration and student groups, trying to assess the needs of the campus in regard to LGBTQ issues. He said they are currently working on formalizing their safe zone training and hopes this will make Bradley a more understanding and welcoming community.

Q: For the tuition we are putting forward, what steps are being taken to bring quality food to our cafeterias?
A: Food Service Director Gayle Hanson said the food served at the cafeterias is not low quality. “I am more than happy to take any student through our freezers and coolers to show the quality of food we use and the brands we use,” Hanson said. She also clarified that student tuition does not pay for the Food Service. Food service is paid through meal plans and buying food at registers.

Q: Why is there more of a police presence at events with more racial minorities than at events with more white students?
A: Bradley University Police Chief Brian Joschko said each event is evaluated individually. He said the amount of police is entirely based on the number of people anticipated at those events.

Q: Can we have an update on the library?
A: Barbara Galik, executive director of Cullom-Davis Library, said they have several plans on improving the library and are trying to find creative ways to fund them. She said they have already expanded seating on the first floor and increased the number of study rooms. They are also hoping to remove the empty shelves on the second floor and put down new carpeting.

Q: What is the administration doing to improve diversity tolerance not only in students but in faculty and staff as well? Why is the administration so passive in doing so?
A: Chase said they are assessing the issue currently. This semester, his office has created a faculty and staff advising committee and hopes the committee will help them better engage with the many, different communities on campus.

Q: Why is the Renaissance Coliseum not used for men’s basketball games?
A: Gary Anna, the vice president of Business Affairs, said there have been conversations about using the space but it was decided that the coliseum is not large enough to hold the attendance needed. He said Bradley’s presence downtown at the Peoria Civic Center improves the quality of life for the community and promotes the importance of the university.

Q: Why are some of the administrators not here to answer questions? Why did they not send people who could answer these questions?
A: Liberty said university business created schedule conflicts that could not reconciled.

Q: Why is there mold on the water fountains?
A: “Let us know where it is, and it will be addressed immediately,” Thomas said. “It is most likely not mold. It’s probably hard water stains, and can be cleaned easily.”

Q: In a predominately white institution, with over 70 percent non-minority students, how does the administration attempt to provide an inclusive and diverse environment for minority ethnic students? When 84 percent of the faculty are white, there’s little support or resources dedicated to underrepresented students and there’s a lack of institutional promotion for the recruitment of students of color.
A: Chase said his office is revamping the welcome week program to ensure that students are connected to whatever community they feel comfortable with. He also mentioned the peer mentor program, which connects freshmen from historically underrepresented backgrounds with seniors from similar backgrounds and said they are working to provide additional opportunities for students to connect. Ball said enrollment management actively seeks out students from diverse backgrounds. He said Bradley is involved with programs like the National Hispanic Institute, 100 Black Men, Chicago Scholars and the National LGBTQ College Fair.

Q: What would you say is Bradley’s biggest issue right now? What is the university doing about it? What can students do?
A: Liberty said the biggest issue is declining enrollment and the administration has taken several steps to address this issue. He said although it’s too early to tell, there are good indicators these steps are working. Ball said students can help by being good “ambassadors” of Bradley. “Greet prospective students you see on campus,” Ball said. “Make a positive impact on perspective students and parents and really highlight the good that happens here at Bradley.”

The following questions were not answered, and administrators said they would be taken back to their department they referred to.

Why is there a $500 study abroad fee attached to students who are studying abroad for a semester? Why pay a student activities fee and a health fee when students who study abroad for a semester are not even on campus?

Do we have a way of getting earlier observation/novice placement to ensure we have the time to fulfill mandatory hours?

Doctors are double dosing and overdosing students with prescription medication needs. What controls are in place to prevent this, and how can the system be improved moving forward?

What is being done to retain the outstanding faculty the university is known for?

Is there any way to cut down the basketball team’s budget and reallocate it?

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