Semester ends with uncertain future, cultural change on the horizon

By Janelle Harb

Editor-in-Chief

By the end of last semester, administration had dealt with the closing (and reopening) of the crumbling parking ramp, a hanging black baby doll in a Frisch Hall elevator following the results of the United States’ presidential election, and numerous student complaints regarding the Travel Team, a travel agency through which school clubs and organizations must book trips.

News Editor Emeritus Justin Smith noted in an article in The Griffin at the end of last semester, titled “Administration’s semester marred by communication failures,” that communication between students and administration has reached an all time low, as exemplified by these incidents.

At the beginning of February, Canisius President and former Griffin editor John J. Hurley sent an email to students and alumni encouraging them to take action against Governor Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship Program, a program allowing free SUNY and CUNY tuition for families with an income less than $100,000.  This email sparked much debate and controversy on social media, with many alumni responding in retaliation with the amount of they still owe to the college, in addition to commenting on the poor tone of the email itself.

Hurley continued this free tuition discussion most recently during his Town Hall meeting on April 20.  He expressed his interest and desire to make tuition more affordable, stating that, “frankly, [he] want[s] to be the first in the area at least to do it.” In regards to retention rates dropping, Hurley explained that many private institutions across the nation were also experiencing this 20-percent decline.

In an interview with The Griffin, Senior Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Life Matt Mulville explained the ways in which Canisius has been downsizing, or “rightsizing,” as phrased by Mulville.  Some of these ways include the sale of Campion Hall, creating two- and five- person housing options in the Village Townhouses, as well as perhaps scaling back several of the dining locations’ hours and events programming.

This downsizing is as a result of an estimated undergraduate size of 2,300, a steady decline over the last four years from 3,000 students.The shrinking student population will seemingly be an ongoing issue, especially with regard to how Governor Cuomo’s scholarship will affect Canisius. However, Mulville looks at potential changes in a positive light, recognizing that we must shape the school to the students, and looks to this as an opportunity to provide the best service to both the school and its students.

Some of the more shining moments of the semester have been the events of Sexual Assault Awareness month, as well as Stand In Solidarity Week. Both sought to help eradicate the stigma surrounding sexual assault victims, as well as refugees.

In regards to student government, the Undergraduate Student Association has attempted to implement many new changes throughout the semester. Sadly, one of their failures has been the Email Reduction Act, which sought to generate one daily email of the activities going on around campus on that day. This blog, titled “Today@Canisius,” in which students were able to submit their events, strives to serve as a “one-stop shop” for students to find information on such events. However, an email has not been sent out to undergraduates since February 16.

Another proposal has been a Canisius-owned parking ticket system for the lots on campus; however, this proposal has since been abandoned. A proposal that did pass, even through to the Faculty Senate, was for Canisius to divest, or get rid of, stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. With this resolution, Canisius is the first Jesuit institution to commit to divestment. Finally, another major change that USA has implemented is the creation of a quasi-endowment out of the contingency fund, the fund into which club budget surpluses roll at the end of the year.

In addition to this, all of the contestants running for positions in the USA 2017-2018 election ran completely uncontested, with no one initially even running for the position of Executive Vice President.

Evidently, there have been highs and lows to the semester. With Canisius’ future as an institution hanging in the balance due to the Excelsior Scholarship Program, it is more important than ever for administration and USA to listen to students in order to learn how the school can improve and what needs to be changed. In addition, they must not only implement these changes, but implement them well–unlike certain email blogs. The oncoming cultural shift that Canisius is bound to experience will consolidate its services in order to fit its decreasing student body. The Griffin hopes that this downsizing will result in better and more quality services offered to students, as well as enable the College as a whole to run more efficiently.

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