By Staff Writer Seth Tamarkin
Every year, Umass Dartmouth’s administrators come together in the Grand Reading Room to answer students’ burning questions and concerns. This year, representatives like the Vice Chancellor, Chief of Police, Director of Dining, the Provost, the Vice Chancellor of student affairs, and members of the Student Government Association arrived ready to answer questions.
Starting off, Angela Callahan, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Talent & Diversity, discussed Human Resources concerns by adding “culturally competent faculty and staff that can help address concerns that some of you may identify.” Finally, they will be “assessing the current state, hearing voices of faculty and staff, building out designs, partnering with leaders to make sure that we are doing effective work, and implementing changes” that will make human resources better overall for students and faculty alike.
She also discussed a question about raising the Black Lives Matter flag, a contentious issue that first emerged in 2016. “I have no issues with the BLM movement, I think it’s a wonderful effort that is driving change, but our focus needs to be on that, driving change, and not driving a flag up a pole.”
Afterwards, Peter Duffy, Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management, answered questions about the Cedar Dells meeting that occurred at the start of the semester. The question posed asked whether complaints of broken appliances and black mold outbreaks in the Dells were properly addressed. “Out of fifty work orders on broken appliances, there are five that are still outstanding. And out of the four work orders of black mold, three out of the four weren’t mold at all.”
He also stressed that students should take personal responsibility for cleaning up their Dell and asking their RAs to vocalize any issues the Dell residents may have. “Posting something on a video or tweet isn’t a good vehicle for addressing problems in a timely fashion,” he said, instead recommending students submit work orders on Umass Dartmouth’s website, or calling facilities.
Later, Assistant Vice Chancellor Michael Hayes fielded questions about the Science and Engineering building. He said he agreed that the chemistry and biology labs are in need of a renovation but said after they fix that they proposed a $54 million project to fix the Science and Engineering Building altogether.
One big issue that he also discussed was about parking, or the lack thereof. Hayes said that “over the last two years” they have been studying the parking situation, and ultimately concluded that there is enough parking today. “One of the issues is residential students [like the Cedar Dell community] move their cars during the day, taking up spots designated for commuters and others.” As for additional parking lots, Hayes has said they are currently looking but have not made any concrete plans.
After the administrators responded to written questions, there was a Q & A discussion for any other issues students may have. One student asked if the police at the Dells were being paid for using student’s tuition, and the answer was yes. She then followed up with a question by telling a story how she was refused entry to the Dells despite being a resident because she didn’t have her ID and was forced to park at the library.
When she asked for an escort from the library because it was late, the police officer refused. The Police Chief sadly couldn’t do anything more because she didn’t get the officer’s name, but made a point to say that students should make sure to report instances like those.
Another student got a round of applause for asking Shannon Finning, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, if Finning had checked out the Dells since the initial crackdown in September. The student noted that for the first time in three years “I have no desire to stay on-campus” and that a large part of the college experience, student engagement, has been shelved in a bid to make the Dells safer. Finning responded saying “why is there a sense that you can’t hang out with your friends all because there are perimeters for safety?”
Overall, the event was a great chance for students give their honest views and have their questions answered. If there is anything you think could be improved on this campus, and you all have something, make sure to catch the next Shake the Ship event.