Students express concerns at town hall meeting

Students presented their concerns about the University to President Fr. Donald Harrington and administration at a town hall meeting Oct. 21. Some of the suggestions made this year included concerns with smoking on campus, large pharmacy classes, the class schedule change and the quality of food on campus.

Chair of the Student Government Organizations Committee, Michael Molina, said University administrators embrace the town hall concept.

“The President and his Council are always delighted to try and address the statements made at the Organizations Congress,” Molina said. “It offers a unique experience for the student leaders of the university to voice their opinions and concerns directly to the cabinet: free of all liaisons.”

One of the concerns raised was about smoking on campus, and whether the smoking policy (no smoking within 30 feet of any entrance) was enforced strongly enough.

Thomas Lawrence, vice president of Public Safety, said that public safety will step up efforts to enforce the policy.

“We will post additional signage in areas that are necessary,” he said.

Another concern raised during the meeting was about the large size of some pharmacy classes.

Dr. Julia Upton, university provost, responded by highlighting the “tiered” lecture halls that will accommodate up to 144 students in the D’Angelo Center. Upton said these lecture halls will help support some of the pharmacy classes.

Health concerns with on-campus dining, specifically Montgoris Dining Hall, was also a raised concern.

Jackie Lochrie, the associate dean for Student Services, advocated for the dining services saying that students should complain directly to the manager, who is always on duty at Montgoris.

Lochrie also added after the meeting that a new channel has been added to St. John’s Central to allow students to directly post comments about on-campus dining.

Megan McEntee, a junior, said she felt that the town hall meeting format could be modified.

“It might be helpful in the future to establish several main topics beforehand so that students affected by those issues can make a point to be present during the meeting and join the debate,” she said.

McEntee also said she felt the ability to fulfill realistic complaints is a great function of the town hall meetings.

“Students have to keep in mind what can realistically be changed on campus,” she said. “Administrators have to remember that issues that seem silly to them are sometimes big annoyances to students.”