Faculty addresses student concerns

Students were informed on Tuesday that May graduating seniors would receive eight tickets for their commencement ceremony at the Bear F.A.C.T.S Forum. This sparked more questions concerning why tickets had to be reserved for commencement. David Payne, vice president of academic affairs, said the Coliseum has been filled to capacity in past commencement ceremonies, and there needs to be a limit on how many people each student invites. “We are trying to ensure that students have the chance to have at least some of their family members there,” said Payne. “We are having to utilize every bit of space we have.”Another prominent issue addressed was the lack of minority professors in the Radio-Television Department. Junior Bobbie Burks, vice president of the Minority Multimedia Group, said minority students were not given the attention needed from the faculty in the communications department because of discrimination. “I’m a student, and I need to know I’ve been helped,” said Burks. “I have to do it myself with no one to help me. (Minority students) need help. So many people don’t want to be RTV majors because of discrimination. We’re not asking (the faculty) to baby us, just help us. My tuition gives me the right to question these things.” Constance Jones, senior, founder of Minority Multimedia Group, said one of her classes is composed of about 30 percent minority students, but there is a white professor. She said minority students are not well represented in the RTV department, and are wary of addressing this problem publicly out of fear they might not be able to graduate or get a good job in the future. Dr. Terry Thibodeaux, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “You should not be having the fears that you are having. You’re doing exactly what you should do; you’re pushing, challenging, and asking questions. That’s what college is all about.”Thibodeaux said there have been significant efforts to hire more minority professors in order to better represent the student body. “It is difficult to find these folks because a lot of times, they can get a lot more money somewhere else,” he said. “There are two things that we can’t have in the classroom. Those two things are incompetence and discrimination. We promise to hear both sides of the issue,” said University President James Gaertner. Another issue questioned was the lack of lighting around the areas of Academic Building 1 and the Newton Gresham Library. “We have one of the most well-lit campuses you’ll ever see,” said Ellery Stevenson of the University Safety Office. Stevenson said the safety department has spent a lot of time installing lights around campus, and the funds for lighting are not fixed into the school’s budget. He said if low lighting exists somewhere on campus, funds can be brought in from another source to pay for installation. Another safety issue addressed was the slippery-when-wet concrete on campus. “If you could be kind enough to let us know when you see this, we will correct the problem. We have chemical solutions to take care of it,” Stevenson said.Stevenson said that sometimes it is difficult to suit the needs of the students.”We have a Herculean time trying to balance safety and security. We’ll give you whatever you want-just tell us what you want us to do.”One student expressed a concern about the splitting of the Academic Enrichment Center. “I think the needs will still be met, just under a different management,” said Dr. Richard Eglsaer of Academic Affairs. “The same amount of services will be offered with the new setup.”One student said a certain class he was enrolled in required too much of a workload for one course. Payne said professors put certain requirements on their students in order for them to adequately gain the knowledge needed from the class. “People that try to take 21 hours do not have time to do justice to each course. It all depends on your abilities,” said Thibodeaux. “The issue may not be how much you’re studying for the course, but how you’re studying.”Another question raised was whether or not the new spring graduation date would affect the amount of time that the residence halls will stay open. Dana Grant, assistant director of residence life, said spring graduating seniors could inform the Residence Life Office if they are planning to stay in the residence halls until after graduation. Students not graduating will not have this option, and must move out of the residence halls on May 15. However, graduating seniors will be allowed to stay until May 17, or possibly the day after the commencement ceremonies. Belvin manager Bob Smith was asked why the food served in Caf Belvin was so unhealthy. Smith said there are healthy options at Caf Belvin, including a 97 percent fat-free deli, a salad bar and multiple baked goods.”One of the biggest misconceptions in the market place is what healthy food really is,” said Smith. “I have been an unhealthy eater most of my life. To me, when I sit down and eat a delicious meal, I am eating healthy food. If you want to eat healthy food, here is my advice: If it tastes good, spit it out.”Students attending the BearF.A.C.T.S. Forum expressed their opinions on how the faculty handled the questions asked.”I think the answers the faculty gave were adequate in regards to some aspects, but many of the questions were personalized and the faculty needed to know more about the specific issues of the students,” said sophomore Jason Plotkin.Freshman Sonya Stewart said the faculty, as a whole, was knowledgeable about some issues, but not knowledgeable about others. She said some of the questions answered by faculty should been answered by other faculty that would have been more knowledgeable.James Barr said he thinks the faculty responded wonderfully. “It is clear they show concern for the students,” said Barr. “Sometimes you think they don’t care, but if you talk to them they do. Get out there and talk to the faculty.”

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