Staff Writer: Maya Arruda
This semester’s Shake the Ship event on February 16th covered various topics, including parking concerns, internet malfunctions, housing issues, architectural infrastructure, security and student safety, and issues with faculty and staff.
The event also covered specific allegations against professors in the College of Arts and Sciences, which included a professor’s usage of racial and antisemitic slurs.
Questions and their respective responses are arranged by topic rather than by chronological order for convenience.
For new students or those unfamiliar with Shake the Ship, the event is an open forum where students can directly voice concerns or questions with high-ranking administrative staff.
Some questions were provided to the Student Government Association via email before the event started, but there was also a section where the audience could freely ask questions to the panel of administrators.
A follow-up event called the Leadership Forum will be held in March this year.
Chancellor Mark Fuller was not in attendance.
Multiple questions asked during the event revolved around parking and parking policy.
The first question was about the graduate student exclusive parking near Ivy.
Spots were given explicitly to graduate students only to encourage graduate students to live on campus as an incentive; however, during the later half of the Shake the Ship event, Vice Chancellor David Gingerella stated that these graduate student-reserved parking spots are planned to no longer be exclusive to graduate students.
Parking tickets, a plague amongst the student body, no longer have to be paid off in cash.
Instead, a policy exists and is currently implemented where students can volunteer at the Leduc center to pay off their tickets. The volunteer hours use a minimum wage pay rate of $15 per hour for paying off parking tickets, so a little over two volunteer hours can pay off the average ticket.
More information for those interested can be found here, though note that eligibility for this volunteer program requires the ticket recipient to have a valid parking pass with the university.
Ticketing technology on campus will be undergoing an upgrade.
In the future, instead of parking enforcement going car by car to physically check permit stickers, the lots will have license plate readers connected with the campus’s permit information to cross-check which lots a student or faculty member is allowed to park in.
An increase in tickets is expected for the foreseeable future.
A towing policy for cars parked without a valid permit will be implemented next academic year.
Vice Chancellor Gingerella has stated that the campus is working with a local towing company “right across the street” and should be a five to seven minute walk for students.
This, however, does not apply to illegally parked cars with health and safety violations, which would follow a more conventional car-towing experience (i.e., more painful and with a greater personal expense).
As anyone who has ever been on campus can tell you, finding parking during peak hours can be unnecessarily difficult, especially for dormitory residents.
According to Vice Chancellor Gingerella, a parking consultant has been brought in to provide a solution, though no concrete plan was revealed or eluded to.
Relocating the dumpsters on campus to free up parking was discussed, but again, no concrete and definitive plan was introduced.
These topics should be revisited at the upcoming leadership forum to determine if any progress has been made.
For more information about on-campus parking, read our op-ed article The Parking Pass: Student Responsibility or Additional Burden?
Internet / Technology Catastrophic Failures
UMassD wifi is absolutely terrible, and everyone and their grandma is bitterly aware of it. As such, it comes to little surprise when one of the questions during the open mic section was about Eduroam, the personal bane of every student and professor’s existence.
Recently, UMassD has taken out ethernet cables in favor of wireless internet in almost exclusively concrete buildings.
To the surprise of no one who understands how wifi works, this plan has backfired terribly, affecting extracurricular clubs, lectures, and student schoolwork by making it nearly impossible to do anything.
Part of this problem stems from Eduroam being part of a collaborative international wifi network for traveling academics.
While a plan to improve wifi connection on campus was promised, no details on this plan or any work on the issue by CITS were given.
However, there is a silver lining for console gamers.
For any consoles having difficulty using Eduroam, students can go to the CITS department for an Eduroam-compatible dongle that should fix the issue.
Plans for a gaming-oriented space were also alluded to.
The technology issues do not stop at the wifi on this campus.
The same student who brought up the wifi issue also cited a lack of industry-standard software for CVPA students in the CVPA computer labs, requiring CVPA students to use their own personal devices.
Students have petitioned for industry-standard software to be installed on university computers since 2018. However, the technology provided for CVPA is regulated by the college itself, not the university administration.
That means it is solely up to the dean of CVPA to decide if industry-standard programming should be provided to students.
It is evident what he chose.
Technology replacements and upgrading are also in the hands of each individual college as part of a campus-wide upgrading cycle. This cycle starts with the library and ends with, surprise, CVPA.
The dean of the college would have some power over when technology would be ready for replacement.
There are some other problems with the dean of CVPA that will be discussed further.
This is a highly varied category with several unrelated questions being addressed.
To start, weather preparation and campus response was addressed during the open mic section.
There are two emergency committees in charge of response: weather-based emergencies led by Vice Chancellor Gingerella and man-made emergencies led by Vice Chancellor Kimberly Scott.
The weather emergency committee will strive to warn students before 6 A.M. for the sake of commuter students at the earliest notice. The campus has purchased better snow removal gear that will prevent sidewalks from icing up and becoming hazardous.
Construction plans for a flag plaza in the middle of the campus, dubbed the unity plaza by Vice Chancellor Gingerella, have been formally declared.
Construction is expected to commence in the middle of May. The given end date of construction was for the beginning of fall, but even the Vice Chancellor was a tad skeptical of that optimistic assessment.
This flag plaza will allow for social justice flags, such as the Black Lives Matter flag, to be hung on campus, which has been in demand for the past 10 years.
Two questions during the open mic session were about the shuttle schedule.
The first asked if shuttles could run later on weekends for safety reasons, citing that they had previously been followed by cars late at night. (As a tangential side note, mace is not allowed on campus, even for self-defense.)
Though a definite change to the shuttle schedule was not promised, downloading the shuttle schedule app was recommended as a solution.
The second inquiry on shuttle transport asked why no students were working as shuttle drivers, to which Vice Chancellor Gingerella explained that shuttle drivers require a specific license and were outsourced to a private motorcoach company.
Though this was not suggested during the event, a solution to both of the aforementioned shuttle problems could be the creation of a UMassD-specific driving app, similar to Uber, where students with cars can chauffer/carpool with other students as a contractor for the university.
Carpooling would also reduce carbon emissions, something the campus seems to struggle with. Food for thought.
Clubs / Student Funding
The Leduc Center is responsible for funding student activities, though student organizations struggle for funding despite donations towards the center.
Vice Chancellor Scott explained that most of these donations were spread out over long periods of time and that student activities were also tax liabilities for the university through departmental funding procedures.
She suggested using the Student Government Association (SGA) for student funding assistance.
Safety issues with club sports were also addressed during the open mic section.
In order to maintain the requirements for club funding through SGA, club sports are forbidden from removing anybody from the team, resulting in clubs with over a hundred members with an eboard of four to five people.
Since only eboard members in club sports are able to oversee games, safety issues arise from having a large player base compared to trained overseers.
This issue was not succinctly solved during Shake the Ship and requires follow-up at the leadership forum.
A couple of weeks ago, the Pine Dale residential dormitory suffered from burst pipes after the long, cold, below-freezing night. The pipe that burst was above a door, leading administration to conclude that the door may have been left open.
It is unknown if all students living in the residential dorms knew to keep faucets running to avoid pipes freezing over.
Vice Chancellor Gingerella commented that UMass Dartmouth suffered fewer broken pipes that night than Amherst and Lowell, but considering Dartmouth is a coastal town, temperatures would have been warmer than towns more inland due to the difference in heat capacity between water and ground. This is nothing to be proud about.
The issue arose when only Pine Dale students were notified via email when the neighboring Oak Glen students were not, with both dorms being a connected entity.
Head of Housing Lydia Johnson claimed that they only wanted to notify students directly involved and impacted by the incident rather than blast emailing uninvolved students. Especially after feedback from irate students complaining about getting too many emails from the school.
She acknowledged that there was some merit to notifying Oak Glen but did not make any official resolution to include Oak Glen students in future Pine Dale incidents or vice versa.
Laundry issues have also impacted dorm students due to insufficient machinery.
Laundry machines per dorm are calculated based on the number of residents per dorm, which is fine in principle.
However, machines are prone to breaking, which renders them unusable and creates a deficiency.
According to the most recent report at the time of Shake the Ship, all machines are on the system and fully functioning. Repair of machines, however, is outsourced to an independent company outside of UMassD.
Students should report faulty machinery via a QR code on the surface of the machine rather than report to RAs or UMassD staff.
Clothes have also been reported stolen from dorm laundry machines.
Cameras monitoring laundry areas will be installed over the summer.
Head of Housing Johnson also recommended downloading and using a laundry app to monitor laundry cycles and to see if any chicanery is afoot. A student in the audience, however, claimed the app did not work.
The ultimate threat against man and beast: vicious attack bees.
These violent stinging yellowjackets have been spotted in cars, near dorms, and literally anywhere one does not want bees to be.
“We have an exterminator on our call,” Vice Chancellor Gingerella said.
But, the exterminator would need to know where the bees are to slaughter not just the men but the women and children too, so it is up to the students to be the first line of defense against the yellow stinging menace and report any bee sightings to facilities staff.
If one is allergic to bee stings, it will be prudent to bring along an EpiPen to prevent anaphylaxis for the foreseeable future, just in case.
Environmental Campus Concerns
A student and faculty committee presiding over the decarbonization plan for the campus has not met in a year, even though this committee is supposed to meet twice a semester.
The original decarbonization plan agreed to by the former chancellor was supposed to have UMassD with zero net carbon emissions by 2030. However, this has been pushed back to 2050, according to Vice Chancellor Gingerella, who claims there is a plan in effect.
The details given about this plan were that LARTS will eventually be powered by geothermal energy.
This issue should certainly be pursued at the leadership forum in March to see if the plan now included how to create a functional geothermal generator to power one of the several campus buildings.
Student Safety / Security
After mass campus shootings like the one in Michigan, student safety and security are major concerns.
Police Chief John Souza, who was in attendance, explained a future plan of “crime prevention by environmental design.”
In this plan, blue lights and cameras would be installed around campus, including in parking lots. Shrubs will also be trimmed back to prevent criminals from lurking in bushes as an ambush tactic and increase visabilty.
The Police Chief addressed the on-campus shooting last semester in lot 13.
According to the investigation, the gun used was an Orbeez water pistol purchased from Walmart, not a BB gun, as was previously assumed.
On-campus cameras failed to identify the license plate number, and there are currently no active leads into the identity of the culprit.
No mention was made of the Prof. Song incident at the end of last semester.
For more information about the MSU shooting, read our articles: Mass Shooting at Michigan State University Leaves 3 Dead and UMass Dartmouth Needs To Speak About The Michigan State University Shooting – Here’s Why.
Inappropriate Professor Behavior
Bad professors are not exactly new for the student populace.
While there are professors with personally incompatible teaching styles and/or a poorly thought-out workload, there are also Bad Professors.
Two of these Bad Professors were mentioned in a question emailed to the president of the SGA, both of which were faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The first professor was allegedly arriving 15 minutes late every day, fostered a poor learning environment, and was rude and dismissive to students.
The second professor was allegedly using racist and anti-semitic slurs during class, which is a fairly different category of Bad than the first professor.
For the first professor, the best method of dealing with them is to follow the faculty reporting process.
The most common method of reporting a Bad Professor Type I is to use the student evaluations on MyCourses.
These student evaluations are used as a gauge of a professor’s performance, and when they are all overwhelmingly negative, that is a clear sign for the administration to do something.
The second step is to follow the hierarchy.
“We don’t throw around that there’s a hierarchy, but there is a hierarchy,” said Provost Office representative Tom Boone.
This hierarchy proceeds as follows: professor, chair of the major, then dean of the college.
For a Bad Professor Type I, it is best to report them to the chair. If the chair is unable to sufficiently address the situation, notify the chair beforehand that the complaint will now be lodged higher up in the hierarchy, the dean’s office.
Cases like the second professor can be reported online here, where the office of diversity, equity, and inclusion will investigate.
Chief Diversity Officer David Gomes suggested that in the case of Bad Professor Type 2, one of the first possible steps is to confront them during their office hours and communicate how their language and behavior made the reporter uncomfortable.
The second step if the Bad Professor Type II is not amenable to changing their behavior is to complain along the hierarchy, the same process as dealing with a Bad Professor Type I.
Student complaint forms can also be used to combat a Bad Professor Type II, but it may be more effective to use other methodologies.
For a more approachable source of complaints, Chief Diversity Officer Gomes named the academic affairs liaison in SGA, Nicole, as a viable complaint receptacle.
A follow-up question regarding another Bad Professor Type I was made shortly after the open mic section was initiated. No public response was given, but a conversation was held between the Provost representative and the student after the event ceased.
Certain alleged actions by the Dean of CVPA have landed them into this category, though not qualifying them for the label of Bad Professor Type I or Type II.
The dean is also the acting chair, which invalidates the hierarchy-based reporting process the university functions on.
According to the head of the animation club, Mattie, an animation and game arts major in their senior year, there have been communication issues with the dean in the past and a lack of support for the animation and game arts major.
Mattie also alleged during the open mic section that the dean of CVPA tried to discourage them from voicing their concerns at Shake the Ship.
The entire animation club came to Shake the Ship in support.
While these claims alone are not grounds for an official reprimand or dismissal, they warrant an in-depth investigation by campus administration.