ASG vice president pushes for apology

Kondrot strives to move forward from drug poster controversy

Allegheny Student Government Vice President Tess Bracken, ’17, voiced concerns regarding an inaccurate and controversial drug display which appeared in the campus center lobby, at ASG’s meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16. She said the administration has yet to give a proper apology.   

The display, which was created through a partnership with the Office of Student Involvement and the Wellness Institute, first appeared in the campus center lobby on Jan. 22, 2016. The display presented information on commonly abused drugs on college campuses.

The display was removed on Jan. 24 by OSI due to concerns brought forth by the Allegheny chapter of Active Minds about the accuracy and implications of some of the information presented.

I really do think a campus-wide email would be appropriate.

— Tess Bracken

Associate Dean of Students Jacquie Kondrot submitted a letter to the editor to The Campus, which ran on Feb. 4. In the letter, Kondrot apologized for the nature of the display and vowed that the college will work to do better in future.

“On behalf of my colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs, I acknowledge that display was not appropriate and extend my sincere apologies to the Allegheny community. We are committed to moving forward and have taken steps to address the concerns expressed by members of the community,” wrote Kondrot.

Bracken said she does not believe the letter is sufficient.

“They are saying the letter to the editor in The Campus is enough…I really do think a campus-wide email would be appropriate,” Bracken said.

In her weekly report, Bracken said she had met with Kondrot to discuss the issue. According to Bracken, Kondrot was initially in favor of of a campus-wide email apologizing for the display, but after speaking with other administrators, including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sue Stuebner, she told Bracken she felt the letter was enough and that she did not want to keep “poking and prodding” the issue.

“So she was not able to do what she thought was necessary,” Bracken said.

Kondrot said she feels the letter was sufficient, but she does not wish to downplay the issue.

“I continue to be concerned about what happened with the display and the information that was displayed,” Kondrot said.

Kondrot is working with students on campus to focus more on the effects of illegal drugs on college campuses, while also addressing mental health issues.   

“I’m hopeful we can move forward in a positive direction on this,” Kondrot said.

Bracken also updated ASG on her ad hoc committee’s work on improving pedestrian safety on campus. She said the committee is hopeful there will be a new crosswalk in front of Caflisch Hall in the foreseeable future.

Walter Stover, ’17, reported he had met with Director of Physical Plant Cliff Willis, who told him they are working to completely overhaul lighting on North Main Street in the next four to five years.

Despite the perceived progress, class of 2018 Senator David Odusanya voiced his concern that the issue of student safety on campus has not been taken seriously by administrators and accused them of “dragging their feet,” saying the issue of adequate lighting has been a conversation on campus for years.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous that student safety is not a priority…it’s been three or four years and nothing has been done,” Odusanya said.

Dean of Students Kimberly Ferguson, who was at the meeting, spoke to this concern saying the administration has already approved funds to better illuminate campus security call boxes around campus. She encouraged ASG to conduct a “light walk” with administration in order to identify areas in need of better lighting if this is still a concern for students.

Bracken replied that ASG conducted a “light walk” last semester. Ferguson recommended another one might be beneficial given staffing changes since the last walk.

“I think the issue you’ve had in the past is changes in administration…and you know when there are changes things fall through the gaps and don’t get done,” Ferguson said.

Provost and Dean of the College Ron Cole is scheduled to attend ASG’s next meeting on Feb. 23, where he will speak on the issue of student retention. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. on the third floor of the campus center.