ASG looks for debate moderator, gives policy updates, asks for suggestions on campus housing

Allegheny Student Government members have been busy working to revise college conduct policies and collaborating on ways to improve campus housing, but with election season in full swing, the annual General Election Debate is still without a moderator.

The weekly ASG general assembly meeting, which began at 7:02 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in room 301/302 of the Henderson Campus Center, consisted of updates regarding college policy, general election information and ways to make campus housing safer, cleaner and updated.

Faith Simms, ’19, director of diversity and inclusion, announced a joint program with Sustained Dialogue. The modified dialogue will be looking at the retention rate of men of color on Allegheny’s campus.

The program is scheduled to run for three weeks; however, Simms said it is still in the recruiting stages.

“If you know any men of color who would be a good fit for this program, let me know,” Simms concluded her report.

Chief of Staff Jason Ferrante, ’20, apologized for his lengthy report, crediting the College Committees Council’s Sunday meeting as the reason behind his agenda.

The Finance and Facilities committee is thinking about how the projected decrease of high school graduates will impact Allegheny in the coming years, Ferrante said.

“There’s actually going to be fewer high school graduates coming out,” Ferrante said. “So how do we look at how that’s going to impact our enrollment?”

Ferrante said faculty salaries are being examined based on comparison groups to make sure Allegheny’s pay has stayed on track.

“How do we pay our professors at all levels compared to what our competitors do,” Ferrante said.

The Curriculum Committee held an open meeting Monday, Feb. 18, to discuss the proposed scheduling grid changes.

“We want to open up a few hours a week for college business as opposed to having meetings that go until 7, 8, 9 o’clock at night, keeping our faculty here,” Ferrante said. “It’s not fair to them. They need to go home. They need to be able to go home at some point.”

The proposed changes aim to open more time during the day as well as reduce the number of overlap among classes and allow students to be able to take more classes, Ferrante said.

“They want to spread out how we slot our classes,” Ferrante said. “Right now, there’s a concentration of classes at 9 through 11 a.m. a lot of classes are taught during then because it’s an early morning class time period. Very few classes are taught at 3 p.m. in the afternoon hours. I know, at least for me they can be a little bit of a drag, but spreading those out would be more helpful for a lot of students to take more classes…”

The timeframe for these scheduling changes is not expected to be completed until a few years from now, Ferrante added.

“They’re working really hard on it,” Ferrante said. “But unfortunately it won’t impact us, but rest assured they are working on it.”

The Council on Diversity and Equity is looking at standard comparison groups to create a standardized set of schools Allegheny is compared to.

“Right now, we have a lot of different comparison groups that we use,” Ferrante said. “Athletics might use a different one than financial aid, so we want to standardize a standard comparison group. If we’re going to compare ourselves to certain schools, we need to do that consistently.”

Academic Standards and Awards is looking at policies that can be moved out of The Compass and into the academic bulletin, Ferrante said.

The student credit transfer policy passed the first round of faculty reading and is moving through the shared governance system. In addition, Ferrante said a policy is being added to regulate how long students have to challenge a grade.

“Right now, there’s not really a set policy,” Ferrante said. “They’re thinking about a time period that would give students a fair amount of time to challenge that grade, and they’re looking at a leave of absence policy.”

Last week, David Roach, ’21, director of communications and press, raised a concern about double ticketing, saying that students who receive parking tickets do not have enough time to move their vehicles before being issued another violation.

Ferrante said he talked with justin adkins, director of the general policy working group and associate dean of students, to work on that concern. Ferrante and adkins do not have another meeting scheduled; however, Ferrante said he is working on finding a solution to the problem.

Finally, Ferrante’s report concluded by asking ASG members to share their thoughts about having a housing committee, people who would look at housing situations and work with residence life to improve living conditions on campus.

Class of 2019 President Alexia Porche said housing options need to be held to a higher standard. Porche said some of her friends who are living in college houses have experienced broken floors and leaky ceilings, stressing that these problems are issues she has witnessed throughout the course of her Allegheny career.

Class of 2021 President Emma Godel suggested creating a potential survey to gauge the student body’s opinion of their housing options.

Heating, safety and the cleanliness of college housing were also mentioned in the discussion; however, Ferrante said he did not want to spend a significant amount of time on the topic during general assembly.

With Ferrante and Elyse Cinquino, ’20, running against Taylor Marzouca, ’21, and Jabriya Hester, ’21, ASG officially announced the date of its annual candidate debate.

The debate will take place next week at “about” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, in the campus center lobby, Monessha Jayabalan, ’19, attorney general, said.

Despite having a time, date and place for the debate, Jayabalan said there is still no moderator for the event.

Cinquino asked Jayabalan if she had candidates in mind to serve as moderator.

“We do, and we’re pursuing it,” Jayabalan answered.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Jayabalan did not give a timeline for when the moderator will be selected or when it will be publicly announced. Jayabalan did not elaborate further on the candidates ASG is considering to fulfill the role.

In past years, representatives from The Campus served as moderators. Last year, Assistant Dean of Students Joe Hall asked candidates questions.

Due to the debate’s time, ASG’s general assembly will be shortened next week, and no club constitutions will be voted on.

Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs Cat Lord, ’20, said she is working to organize a tabling event in the campus center where students will be given a sustainable object, saying that she is leaning toward a bamboo toothbrush.

After class reports, ASG President Camila Gomez, ’19, encouraged ASG members to attend the debate.

“You might also get to ask a question,” Gomez added.

In new business, Marzouca raised a question about student conduct policies, relating to pranks and intentional messes made in residence halls that create unnecessary work for food service and cleaning staff.

“I think it’s important that everybody is aware that those things aren’t funny,” Marzouca said.

Ferrante responded, saying he has noticed the messes as well. He added that the general policy working group looked at a policy called “Disruption, Obstruction and Conduct,” a conduct which is disorderly, disruptive or indecent.

“I’m sure that’s not permitted, but I think being more specific in saying … pranks are not permitted (is important),” Ferrante said.

ASG adviser Gretchen Beck added that the policy and repercussions depend on the nature of the problem, saying that the consequences may result in a conversation with administrators like Hall or a follow up with housekeeping.

“If the individuals who are the perpetrators of the prank are known, then usually there’s a conversation,” Beck said, adding that Campus Life is at the “tail end of the tweaking phase” of student conduct policy revisions but will consider adding stronger language.

“I think that’s kind of an inappropriate way to deal with it,” Marzouca said.

In some past situations, Beck said, the perpetrators have had to write notes of apology to housekeeping staff for the mess.

“It kind of depends on what it is and what’s happened,” Beck said.

To conclude, Gomez said Marzouca’s comment was made “in spirit of atoning the harm that has been done” and said her suggestion to make perpetrators clean up the mess themselves would fit in well with some of the policy revisions already being made to the college handbook.

To end, Roach raised questions about working with St. Moritz to see that workers are given a realistic number of buildings to clean.

Gomez said she would do some research to see how this concern could be addressed, and Gillian Greene, ’20, vice president, concluded the meeting.