Cole talks student experience at ASG

President Ron Cole, ’87, addressed the Allegheny Student Government at their weekly General Assembly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 8. As a part of their regular business, ASG voted to approve the college’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network as a club in the first of two rounds of voting, and reported adjustments to the financial forms used by clubs.
Cole, the guest speaker for the week, began with a prepared speech around 15 minutes in length.
“I want to provide a brief update on some of the questions and concerns that I’ve heard, including what we’re trying to do to follow up,” Cole told ASG. “You deserve to not only be able to share your ideas, concerns and questions, but you deserve to hear what we’re doing with that information.
In his remarks, Cole walked through a number of changes that he said have been made in response to student concerns he heard during listening sessions in his opening weeks as president. On the topic of diversifying faculty, Cole said the college was adding a “pre-doctoral diversity fellowship program” and looking to continue diversity teaching fellowship programs. He also said that the college’s Student Life and Finance staff would be looking at making the college’s meal plans more flexible, though he stopped short of guaranteeing specific changes.
“I can’t promise any particular outcome and one thing I’ll repeat is (that) I’m going to try very hard to never make a promise I can’t keep,” Cole said. “This isn’t a promise about particular outcomes but it’s a promise that we are working to see what changes can be in place by spring semester.”
Cole acknowledged issues with the college’s internet service. Last month, the campus’ WiFi had to be rebooted because of an issue with an 11-year-old controller located in the main network closet. Cole said that he had heard of issues with the internet back when he was Provost and Dean of the College, and that he had started to work on the issue back then.
“At that time our IT department, under my leadership, started to build a plan to fully upgrade our network infrastructure,” Cole said. “That did get delayed a little bit from where I hoped we would be, but the work was begun last spring. If all goes as planned, I expect that there’ll be significant improvements in Wi-Fi and internet service by the start of the spring semester.”
Following his address, Cole took questions from the GA. In response to a question from Director of Community Relations William Lowthert, ’23, about the college’s enrollment picture — Provost and Dean of the College told ASG at their Nov. 1 meeting that the college had enrolled less than 300 students in the class of 2026 — Cole noted that the academic program review conducted last year may have had an impact.
“Some of the changes that took place on campus around academic programs — which I shared with this group when I was provost — I think had an effect on campus spirit and morale,” Cole said. “Somehow, I think it had an influence on visitors to campus. I think that it’s a variable, it’s not measurable, but I suspect that the way that the campus (felt) had an influence.”
Cole also noted that the college had hired admissions counselors for the Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas, and asked students to positively represent the college to potential first-years.
“We’re going to ask your help to be ambassadors for Allegheny and ask your help to speak with pride about Allegheny to prospective students,” Cole said. “If you see them on campus, share your Allegheny experience. share your Allegheny story, I believe, as a college, while we have a lot of work to do, we can’t overlook the great amount that we have to be proud of.”
Cole also acknowledged food insecurity among students.
“Students experiencing food insecurity is an unacceptable place for me for Allegheny College,” . We thought we solved that a few years ago with our meal plans function, I’m not sure that was the case … We need to get to the root cause. It has something to do with our meal plan structure.”
Food came up again during ASG’s regular business, when the college’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network, a program aimed at redistributing uneaten food to local community centers, was put forth as a candidate to be an ASG-recognized club.
“We are going to be able to recover a lot of food,” Senator London Dejarnette, ’24, who leads the FRN chapter, told the GA. “They are wasting a lot of food in Brooks — like, substantial amounts of food — and we all knew that, but when you see it really is a lot.”
The chapter was approved for its first round of voting, and will need to pass a second round of voting next week to become an ASG-recognized club.
During her cabinet report, Director of the Treasury Adriana Solis, ’23, announced changes to the financial forms used by clubs to access their funds.
“The finance request and the club budget forms will be combined into one form, the credit card request will have its own form, and then the check request and reimbursement request will be combined into one form,” Solis said. “That’s just to make things easier for processing on my end, and also because a lot of the clubs have been complaining about all of the forms we use.
The Senate also approved $1,794.06 in spending, all from the General Fund.
ASG will hold its next GA on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in room 301/302 of the Henderson Campus Center.