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Students Don’t See Value in Admin Open Forums

Glenn Rohrbacker, Editor in Chief

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Shyanna Mohagel
Student Kiana Quinonez asks President Steven Kaplan a question on how to increase faculty diversity.

President Steven H. Kaplan and other University of New Haven administrators recently held an open forum to hear questions and concerns from students. Some students, though, don’t believe that sessions like these will bring about real change at the university.

Some students that attended the forum in November felt that the answers they received didn’t provide any insight into a solution.
“I felt that Kaplan’s remarks were more dismissive than constructive,” said Kiana Quinonez, a junior at the university, who asked about how the school can hire more diverse faculty members. “Whenever he attempted to answer my questions he would change the subject or give me a non-committal answer.”

A topic that was discussed from several points of view at the forum was communication, where Kaplan was looking to see how the administration can better communicate these events to students. But for some students, communications wasn’t the issue. They felt that their concerns wouldn’t be taken seriously or be given a solution.

Student Erika McNally also feels like the issues talked about in the forums don’t end up being solved.

“[Kaplan] speaking to students seems like a complete publicity act and even when many students voice their opinions the issues are not fixed,” she said. “They’re just skirted around and not truly solved at the root only the face value—like the face lift they gave Bartels instead of the root issue of Sodexo food.”

Senior Sam Paquette, a theater major, said that she and other theater majors have tried to get support from the administration in the past for upgrades, but have not been successful.

Shyanna Mohagel
Ron Quagliani addresses a question about Sodexo food.

“I don’t feel like going to a forum with Kaplan will result in positive change for my program, as our theater is not in the best condition, the curtains are disgusting and we have limited tech supplies, and things like the ESUMS middle school and the Atwood residential complex are being built instead,” she said.

Student Dakota Hettel said her environmental concerns, like the excess water being released from sprinklers and birds dying around campus due to the type of windows used, probably wouldn’t be feasible.

“I just didn’t think that some of the concerns I had would have ever been taken seriously in a forum like that and they’d be brushed off as too expensive for the school,” she said.

Several students also commented on academic issues preventing them from taking the classes they needed. Paige Constantineau, a senior music and sound recording major, said that other recording majors have had issues with not enough spaces for classes that are required to graduate from the program.

“If you miss a semester of recording classes, you could set yourself back a whole year” she said. “Of course, that would benefit the university, but certainly not the students.”

Tatiana Ashanti added that many mandatory criminal justice classes that are required do not have enough room for the students that need to take them.
Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rebecca Johnson responded to these criticisms by saying that the administration is always willing to address and fix student issues.

“Whenever students raise concerns, we always follow up,” she said. “Any time a student has concerns, I would hope they feel comfortable coming to my office.”
Johnson expressed that she was concerned that students felt like their issues weren’t taken seriously, and hoped that students would continue to speak up and reach out to find solutions to problems.

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Students Don’t See Value in Admin Open Forums