The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Public Safety meets with students in forum

Guest signing-in policy, gate closings among topics of discussion
Gate 6 will now have more parking spots available for students to use. (Photo/ Diana Colapietro)

Student Government Inc. held open meetings with Public Safety and Residence Life, respectively, last week, to discuss concerns such as the guest sign-in policy, StormCard replacement fees and gate closings.

Mark Benavides, vice president of S.G.I., and Brittany O’Neill, co-chair of student services, spoke to the Torch about the recent meetings.

Benavides said that S.G.I., in conjunction with students and Public Safety, wants to talk about the guest sign-in policy and the issues surrounding it.

“We want to know if it enhances or hinders the student experience,” Benavides said.

S.G.I. has already involved the Research and Development Committee to collect information through Formstack surveys in order to zero-in on concerns students have on campus.

Preliminary statistics show that out of 370 students interviewed regarding the sign-in policy, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of students that have an issue with it, according to Benavides.

“We haven’t necessarily identified the problem yet, but we are trying to figure out if it’s a procedure problem, a policy problem or a ‘lack of freedom’ problem,” Benavides said.

With the help of Public Safety, S.G.I. aims to determine what the safest possible solution will be and sustain a comfortable environment for students. For example, students should be aware when their roommates or suitemates are having guests over and how long they will be staying.

Benavides also expressed possible negative effects that a more lenient policy could have on students’ academic success.

O’Neill mentioned that the sign-in policy currently in place was a result of students voicing their concerns about roommates.

“What I found to be extremely interesting was that they talked about how a few years prior, the policy that is being instituted today was actually brought up by students,” O’Neill said. “Since then, I feel like the students have changed… they are now against the policy, which is shown in our Formstack data.”

“S.G.I. isn’t moving unilaterally on this; we have already reached out to the Resident Student’s Association to help us understand students’ issues with the current policy,” O’Neill said.

There haven’t been any developments about the issue of modifying the lost StormCard fee discussed in the Nov. 20meeting with Public Safety. However, Tom Lawrence, vice president of public safety and dean of students are receptive toward a solution, Benavides said.

“We are very concerned about this because we want to make sure that students aren’t seen as cash cows or that we’re not seen as a source of revenue for Public Safety based on our own forgetfulness,” Benavides said.  “We want to take a look at the policy to make sure that it is fair and fits in with the University’s Vincentian values.”

There has been benchmarking research done in order to find data on other universities and their fees for lost student ID cards, Benavides said.  He also said there was no data found on any other schools that charged up to $100 for lost ID cards like St. John’s does.

S.G.I. and Public Safety are trying to figure out ways to improve the guest signing in policy. (Photo/Diana Colapietro)
S.G.I. and Public Safety are trying to figure out ways to improve the guest signing in policy. (Photo/Diana Colapietro)

As far as general improvements go, O’Neill said that Public Safety has removed nine vans to create more space for student parking near Gate 6, and will now post when gates are closed and open, both at the entries and online.

O’Neill also mentioned that the Henley Apartment Complex is now equipped to sign in guests without residents having to go back to the Public Safety office on the main campus.

Benavides said that while there is no significant problem yet, S.G.I. wishes to divert any future problem by advocating for continued funding for the Manhattan Shuttle.  There has been a sufficient amount of speculation of the shuttle being removed that is prompting S.G.I. to act on this issue.

Benavides and O’Neill also mentioned that S.G.I. will meet with executive vice president, Martha Hirst in order to discuss the shuttle bus issue.

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About the Contributors
Talia Tirella, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Co-Editor-in-Chief: Talia is a senior Journalism major/Government & Politics minor who intends to make the Torch an open organization, to expand our staff writing team and readership, and to grow the Torch as a professional organization.   [email protected]
Diana Colapietro, Photo Editor
Photo Editor: Diana is a senior Photojournalism major/International Studies minor who has been involved in the Torch since her freshman year in the fall of 2012. This year she hopes to incorporate more photo spreads in the newspaper and make the content more visually appealing. [email protected]
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