Middleton addresses student concerns
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 13, 2012 12:02
"We cannot have a community without dissent," Roosevelt president Charles Middleton said to start the Student Government Association-sponsored open forum with students last Tuesday.
Dissent and disappointment fueled many of the questions that were voiced at the open forum. Students' concerns were mostly centered on the curriculum, social justice issues, the new building and student retention versus student recruiting.Chase Zronek, a political science major, voiced concerns about course cuts.
"We're trying to compete with schools like DePaul," he said. "Yet we've had 235 courses cut from the curriculum. How can we be competitive when classes have been cut and night classes have been moved to daytime?"
Others joined the conversation, citing various instances where classes they needed in order to stay on the graduating track were cut for several semesters. Middleton began by explaining that curriculum falls under deans' and departments' jurisdiction, and the cutting of classes focused on those with low enrollment or ones that were electives.
He also responded to complaints about steadily rising tuition.
"Next year, we are increasing tuition less than $1000," he said, referring to the fall 2012 tuition increase of $950. "Which is still less than DePaul…and there will be no more cuts. We anticipate a growth budget for next year, even if it is a small increase."
In response to questions about his compensation, Middleton said, "I don't set compensation. The board [of trustees] does. Every employee sacrificed last year, and it was disproportionate at the top," he conceded. "But last year, I gave back the university $100,000 quietly, in various forms."
The discussion soon turned from the budget to social issues.
Lucas Barnhill, president of RU Proud, spoke up about his encounters with transphobic professors and suggested a mandatory workshop for all staff and faculty, "especially for older professors who haven't adjusted to social norms."
This workshop, if implemented, would be a follow-up to last year's RU Proud-sponsored voluntary faculty workshop held in conjunction with the office of career services, which was met with great success.
Middleton was surprised to hear these problems. He highlighted the administration's sensitivity to transgender and LGBTQ discrimination, calling attention to the decision to build gender-neutral restrooms in the new building.
"Roosevelt is a safe zone," Middleton said. "You and everyone else are safe here, which is a core value."
Barnhill followed up with complaints of "LGBTQ harassment in the athletics department, especially among athletes living in the University Center."
Allegations of harassment provoked him to respond, "It is never okay to harass someone, period."
The president closed the forum by thanking the student audience and reiterating the importance of self-investment of higher education at Roosevelt, especially because of upcoming changes in staff and the opening of the Wabash building.
SGA holds an open forum with President Middleton every semester. For upcoming SGA-sponsored events or to submit a question, visit RU Student Government Association on Facebook.