Students voice concerns at Real Talk forum

Basketball coaches. College hours. Dining hall hours. Food options. Parking. Residence hall maintenance and cleanliness.

At Tuesday’s Real Talk forum, students had the opportunity to collectively voice opinions, pose questions and express complaints to representatives from a variety of departments, including residence life, health and wellness, food services, greek life, campus services — and even Dean of Students John Downey.

Over the course of the 90-minute event, there were many topics brought to light, but three in particular earned a strong reaction from the approximately 100-person crowd.

Aaron Sisson, Director of Campus Services, right, communicates to Dani Konopelski, sophomore left, that her dorm room concerns are being heard and changes will be made in the future. Stephanie Bunao

Aaron Sisson, director of campus services, right, communicates to Dani Konopelski, sophomore left, that her dorm room concerns are being heard and changes will be made in the future.

Two of those topics were due in part to Queens altering the academic schedule at the start of this school year.  One student questioned why college hour moved from its original time of Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. till noon to its new schedule of Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. till 5 p.m., and requested that it be changed.

“It’s the worst,” she said.  “I actually had to quit my SGA position because I’m an athlete… and I have practice at that time.”

Also in regards to this year’s new schedule, another student said that although midday classes had changed their starting and ending times as well as duration, the cafeteria’s operating hours had remained the same.  Assuming that Queens is to maintain the new class schedule, she requested that the dining hall shift or increase their hours to allow for more students to have the opportunity to eat lunch on campus.

The final point that received strong support from the crowd was in regards to meal plans. Multiple students had inquiries as to why residential sophomores and juniors had to purchase a meal plan when they had equal opportunity to cook for themselves.

“We found out seniors, who live on campus in Wireman or [Byrum] are allowed to drop to five [meals],” she said.  “But, if we’re sophomores or juniors, we’re not allowed to, even though we have the same kitchen setup.  We don’t see how that’s fair.”

Zach Thomas stands in front of a whiteboard filled with many suggestions students shared about potential improvements made on campus at Student Real Talk Forum January 26, 2016.Stephanie Bunao

Zach Thomas stands in front of a whiteboard filled with the many suggestions students shared about potential campus improvements at the Real Talk forum.

Although staff from many departments were present for the forum and had the opportunity to provide feedback to students’ inquiries, the first two topics did not receive a response from any of the parties involved in such decisions.  Dean Downey did say that Queens is obligated to enforce meal plan participation for all freshman to junior residential students due to their contract with Chartwells and did not have an answer for when that contract could be renegotiated.

Other topics discussed at the forum were the hiring of new Director of Food Services Jeff Brown, putting MacGray’s laundry contract, which expires at the end of this school year, out to bid and the administration’s investigation into engineering and architectural causes of mold growth in Byrum.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.