Concerned students speak up


Kristina Aiad-Toss

From right to left on yesterday’s panel: Michael Strong, dean of students; sociology professor Kathryn Feltey; trustee Olivia Demas; student trustee Darnell Davis; and trustee Warren Woolford.

By Grant Morgan, Managing Editor

At a unique event yesterday in Schrank Hall South, a group of about 20 students were given free rein to voice their concerns to select University representatives, including two members of the UA Board of Trustees.

The event, called “Join the Conversation,” was put on by the Akron chapter of the Ohio Student Association (OSA), and was advertised as a student-led, student-oriented discussion to consider solutions to the most prominent problems affecting students.

The representatives that came to listen were UA trustees Warren Woolford and Olivia Demas; student trustee Darnell Davis; Dean of Students Michael Strong; and sociology professor Kathryn Feltey. They could chime in when they felt it necessary or when asked a direct question, but for the most part stayed quiet and listened to what students had to say.

“I agree that enrollment is concerning,” responded Demas to a student’s concern about ominous admissions numbers for fall 2016. “And personally, I’m taking this seriously by trying my best to make sure that I pull students in.”

Another student brought up a question about the so-called “grand entrance” to the University off Exchange St., proposals of which were first reported last fall by The Devil Strip. At that time, concerns were raised about profligate spending at the same time as important University services were cut. UA spokesman Wayne Hill, who also attended the event, confirmed that such a project is not happening.

Hill also jumped into the conversation regarding the Board of Trustees’ next meeting on Wednesday, April 13.

Usually, the Board’s meetings are held on the third floor of the Student Union. Next week’s meeting, however, is being held at UA’s Wayne campus, which is a 40 minute drive from main campus – possibly making it much more difficult for interested people to attend.

Hill said historically, the Board had held meetings at branch campuses at least once a year, but this process stopped sometime around 2008 or 2009. The Board’s decision to hold a meeting at Wayne has been “under discussion for some time.”  

Students also brought up concerns regarding departmental favoritism, difficulty enrolling in classes, low morale on campus, rebranding, outsourcing, graduate assistantships, administrative leadership problems, a lack of faculty, and infrastructure spending, among other topics.

Professor Feltey was sitting in at the event for Linda Subich, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who was out of town. Feltey said she is meeting with Subich this Friday and Monday to discuss the detailed notes she took at the event.

Sophomore English and sociology student Kailey Gabriel was happy with the event.

“I think it was a good setting and I would like to see more events like this to keep the conversation going,” Gabriel said, who when the event began spoke to her difficulty in enrolling in some French courses. “I found it disappointing that the [trustees] left so [soon] though.”