Pacific University’s Undergraduate Student Senate held an open forum on Nov. 7 in the University Center for students to directly ask Pacific’s President Lesley Hallick and other administration officials about issues concerning campus.
Hallick was joined on stage by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Sara Phillips; Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Mark Ankeny; Vice President of University Advancement, Cassie Warman; and Vice President for Finance and Administration, Jim Langstraat.
Topics discussed by students included overnight parking, sustainability, undocumented students, accessibility, counseling, professors and tuition increases. And, many of the administrators answers seemed to satisfy the students.
For example, parking has been a perennial issue raised at the forums and Hallick said the administration is currently looking for both a long-term and short-term solution to overnight parking on campus. Those solutions included the possibility of selling less permits and opening up the cannery lot for overnight parking as soon as January respectively. Hallick added they are looking for a “comprehensive approach” that keeps everyone in mind, reaching the core of the issue that will, with any luck, be solved by summer next year.
However, some students were not as satisfied with their answers as others. After the forum, student Maggie Trettin — who asked about professors leaving and in her eyes not being properly replaced — said the responses she received were “frustrating.”
“I know there are a lot of things to be balancing and spending money on at the university,” Trettin explained. “But, the thing that stuck with me is Dean Phillips saying it was because the history department was so small they couldn’t justify spending money to replace those absent professors.”
Despite her frustrations, Trettin said she still views the forum in a positive light. “I think it’s very important for people to know what’s happening at the administrative level, not only in the university matters but everywhere,” she said.
Two questions concerning campus diversity received cheers from the crowd. One student asked why a more diverse individual was not hired as the new athletic director. “We had a candidate in house that we thought was extremely well qualified to do the job,” Hallick replied in reference to Keith Buckley, who was previously the head football coach.
The other question, which was asked anonymously online, was: “In general, how do you plan on bringing and retaining more students of color to Pacific and not just tokenizing them on pamphlets. Additionally, what is the forecast for retention in regards to keeping students here for the next five to 10 years when there is a decline in recruitment?”
In her response, Hallick made note of the university’s current statistics. “The percent of Caucasian students in this new class is less than 50,” she said. “It’s about 48%, if I’m remembering correctly, and retention this year was 81% which was up three percent from last year.”
“We’re trying to bring a lot of different programs to bear on retention, because particularly at the undergraduate level retention is incredibly important,” she added. The president then went on to explain that the administration also looks at these issues through an “equity lens” to see which students they are retaining as well.