Students involved in campus activities and clubs had a surprise waiting for them when they returned to the College after summer break.
Over the summer, the College began to reorganize the Student Life Office, which meant new advisors, new staff members and new offices for student organizations to report to.
Many students were angered by the change because the College never consulted them.
“When I first heard of the restructuring, I was hit hard,” SGA President Christina Puglia said. “They didn’t come and say, ‘This is what we want to do.’ All I heard was, ‘We’re taking away your advisor and moving people around.'”
Puglia said the reorganization means change for each of the 150 student organizations.
“They are looking to change student service offices, which directly affect what students do on a day-to-day basis,” Puglia said.
What Is Changing?
Under the reorganization, campus offices will now be placed in four departments -Student Development and Campus Programs, Campus Wellness, Auxiliary Services and Residential and Community Development.
The process is part of the College’s efforts to cope with statewide budget cuts and a downward spiraling economy. It hopes the change will help maximize existing resources.
“We’re looking more down the road, than right now,” Mary Elaine Perry, vice president for Student Life, said.
According to Todd McCrary, Lead-ership Program director, there were fears that positions would be cut, and people would lose their jobs. But, the College moved many staff members and changed their responsibilities.
Under the reorganization, Athletics and Campus Life were combined under the Student Development and Campus Programs department. Perry thought the offices would work well together since both plan the majority of on-campus programs.
In the Residential and Community Development program, staff members hope to
make housing assignments more “user friendly,” according to Gretchen Reyes-Cseplo.
Reyes-Cseplo is the current upper class area director who will take over housing assignments in Residence Life. The disciplinary aspect of Residence Life and the Alcohol and Drug Education Program will move under current College disciplinarian, Lynette Harris’ control.
The Campus Wellness Department will now include the Physical Enhancement Center and Service Learning.
According to Nino Scarpati, current director of Service Learning, the addition of service activities is beneficial to Campus Wellness as a whole.
Student and Staff concerns
SGA President Puglia, Roy Johnson, the president of the Black Student Union, and five other student leaders met with College President R. Barbara Gitenstein and Perry on Sept. 12 to discuss the impact the changes will have, and the lack of communication between the administration and students.
The attending students were Keri Adams, director of CUB, Pedro Khoury, president of Uni?n Latina, Paul Harris, student advocate, Sneha Ghandi, president of the Asian American Association and Dave Lepelletier, president of the Leadership Development Program.
Perry said that the College did not consult students because the changes involve personnel matters.
Puglia said that whenever there are job vacancies at the College, students sit on committees that hire. “I didn’t feel this was a reason not to ask us,” she said.
In response, Gitenstein created a taskforce to help improve communications between administration, students and stakeholders.
The students were also angered because the original plan moved Wanda Anderson, director of Campus Life, and McCrary out of Campus Life, which Johnson said affected diversity representation in the office.
“I’m concerned,” Johnson said. “Because the only two visible African Americans would be moved out of Campus Life.”
Anderson, who was originally slated to move to Residence life, will now be placed under Magda Manetas, assistant dean of Student Life, to work as an advocate for student leaders. McCrary will move to Auxiliary Services.
While Puglia was pleased with the changes, Johnson disagrees with the College’s motives.
“They are trying to appease us for the moment, but there is a larger issue at hand here which is the College making yet another change without first consulting students,” Johnson said.
Some staff members also felt unsure about the changes because the College is still working out new titles and job descriptions.
The College hopes to have this system implemented in October.
Students were upset that Anderson and McCrary would not retain their original jobs. But, part of the reorganization’s goals was to move people out of offices they have worked in for a long time.
“People who have worked in the same place for a long time – they’re not as excited. And we’re fearful, we don’t want to lose these people,” Gitenstein said.
She added, “The greater challenge is to interest them, to keep them here.”