By Staff Writer Seth Tamarkin.
As with other past semesters, the faculty at the UMass Dartmouth have set aside a day called ‘Shake the Ship’ where students can ask questions and share concerns to a variety of UMass Dartmouth officials in an open forum conversation.
This semester’s Shake the Ship occurred on April 10 in the library, and featured members of SGA as well as the UMass student community at large asking what’s in store for UMass Dartmouth’s future.
Before the open forum though, representatives from UMass Dartmouth’s administration answered pre-written questions.
One of the pre-written questions asked how the faculty can change the CHEM 151 course to decrease the number of fails and withdrawals. To that, Mohammad A. Karim,
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said that the school had two initiatives. The first is to urge students to sign up for Chemistry 151 as a summer program, while the second initiative is a pilot program for Biology majors, where the CHEM 151 requirements are moved from fall to Spring so that those who took math in the Fall could take CHEM 151 later.
This idea didn’t win over Jack Cady, a student government senator for Charlton College of Business, who later criticized the plan since it urges students to take summer classes, which cost considerably more than normal classes.
Later, Angela Callahan, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Talent & Diversity, continued a discussion from last year about hiring practices at Human Resources and the Counseling Center. Many students believe there is a distinct lack of diversity in both areas and voiced their concerns at the event.
Responding to a question about hiring more people-of-color in the Counseling Center, Callahan said, “Yes! If, they are the most qualified candidate for the position.” She said that they are currently hoping for more diverse applicants by posting job opportunities on a variety of websites including the Association of Black Psychologists, and the National Latino Psychological Association, but there haven’t been nearly enough applicants from qualified people-of-color.
During the open forum, there were many concerns raised too. Jack Cady mentioned that he was told someone’s service dog was kicked out of a classroom and wondered why that was.
Lucinda Poudrier-Anderson, Director for Residential Life & Education, responded by noting the difference between service animals. Service animals provide a major life service and should be allowed everywhere, but assistant animals that help depression and anxiety are only allowed in dorm rooms.
Another student asked why the wi-fi is barely functional in the library, a concern mirrored by students who couldn’t access wi-fi at the event itself. Interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Holger Dippell answered, first asking if she went to CITS. After the student said, “multiple times,” Dippell promised to look more into the issue.
Natasha Shiku, Student Affairs chair for SGA, asked about other areas on campus including Chestnut Hall, “where some students can’t do work in their dorms since they have no wi-fi.” Dippell once again promised to investigate the issue, but also mentioned that the amount of dense concrete in the resident halls could make wi-fi a challenge. He also noted how expensive it would be to fix the infrastructure to support better wi-fi.
After that, Elena O’Connor, SGA senator and Diversity, Social Justice and Inclusion chair, asked the chief of police what measures were being taken to teach on-campus police officers de-escalation training. “In a nutshell, it’s a national issue, and right at the forefront of what we’re focusing on. We’re trying to get a trainer over the summer to go more in-depth than what we are required to do” he said.
Another question raised was about the upcoming senior week, or lack thereof. A student named Missy spoke for seniors on campus who are dismayed that the academic calendar for this year didn’t leave room for senior week.
The faculty answer was that they were sorry, but they couldn’t fix the problem this year due to scheduling conflicts with commencement this year. Among the last questions brought up was to the head of student affairs. Elena O’Connor pleaded for them to bring the shuttles back to the Dells on the weekends. She pointed out that getting the shuttle system doesn’t deter underclassmen from going to the Dells, it just puts unnecessary issues on people living in the Dells.
The faculty response was that they wanted to change party culture in the Dells so they would keep the shuttles as they are.
O’Connor argued that the supposed “party culture” is an overblown allegation, but the faculty disagreed, citing students who allegedly voiced support for the measures with the Dells.
To get your question asked and your opinion heard, make sure to attend the next Shake the Ship event.