ASG hosts Cole, the Hill Group


Roman Hladio

Cole addresses the general assembly on Tuesday, April 18. Many of the things Cole discussed were issues raised by students that had either been addressed, that will be addressed before the fall semester or will continue to be worked toward by the college’s senior leadership team.

The gloom of springtime snow did not halt the proceedings of Allegheny Student Government’s penultimate General Assembly of the semester. Although this meeting was ASG’s last functioning meeting of the semester, room 301/302 of the Henderson Campus Center was abuzz, as Allegheny College President Ron Cole, ’87, was in attendance with most of the college’s senior leadership team.
Cole, who was one of two guest speakers, attended to discuss initiatives and ideas he discussed with members of ASG and the campus community throughout his first academic year as president and at a December 2022 open session held in the lobby of the campus center. Cole said he wanted to discuss accomplishments made since the December meeting and community concerns that will be addressed in the future.
“I will never promise something that I don’t know we can deliver,” Cole said, “but I’ll always promise that we’ll take concerns seriously, we’ll listen and we’ll come back with either, ‘Here’s what we’ve been able to do to improve the experience,’ or, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not able to do anything on that right now.’”
One short-term solution coming to campus is updated Wi-Fi infrastructure through a new provider, according to Cole.
“We know that Wi-Fi is an issue,” Cole said. “There are plenty of times I’ve been working in Bentley and the Wi-Fi is wavering somewhere on campus. We know it’s an issue and we had hoped to have that addressed and have an upgraded system in place by now. We’re not done, and I anticipate that with the work that we’re doing, it should be in place by the summer for an up and going, new, much stronger Wi-Fi system by the start of fall semester.”
The new Wi-Fi infrastructure is through Wi-Fiber, who the college opened a contract with in the spring of 2022, The Campus reported in November 2022. However, implementation of the new network has been delayed multiple times.
“We can’t make any guarantees, but we expect to have the new network available for students when they come back in the spring (2023) semester,” Systems Administrator Doug Tomer said at the time.
In that same article, which explored network connectivity issues, Tomer told The Campus that connectivity issues at the time were independent of the change in provider.
Another item that Cole said will be implemented for the fall 2023 semester is the new “exploratory adviser” system. First announced at the Feb. 17 GA by Associate Provost and Professor of Music Jennifer Dearden, the new system decouples the advising aspect of the FS program, meaning a student’s FS 101 professor will no longer serve as their initial academic adviser.
“Taking advising out of FS 101 provides more space for the curriculum in the FS program,” Dearden said at the time.
Cole also addressed concerns regarding mental health services on campus, acknowledging the difficulty of staffing the Counseling and Personal Development Center and thanking members of the senior leadership team for the rolling out of telehealth service CampusCare. He brought an additional, “breaking news” announcement to GA.
“We’ve just hired, brought on board a local behavioral health provider for in-person, on-campus therapy,” Cole said to the enthusiastic knocking of tables by the Senate.
In terms of what still needs to be addressed, Cole said the college is working on safety updates around campus, upgrading all of the college’s laundry facilities in residence halls — which should be complete by the beginning of the fall semester, according to Cole — and continuing to improve meal plans and food insecurity on campus with student input.
Later in the meeting, Class of 2024 Vice President London Dejarnette asked Dean for Student Experience Ian Binnington about the state of a food security survey initially proposed at the Jan. 27 GA.
“It has not gone as quickly as I had hoped it would, because, obviously, we haven’t seen it,” Binnington said. “But I admitted this morning that I don’t have the time to do it myself and I’ve passed it off to our newly-hired wellness case manager who has a lot more free time than I do, and so I think we will see it moving forward a lot more rapidly than it has. But the commitment is there.”
Joshua Guthrie, the newly hired wellness case manager Binnington refered to, was unavailable for comment.
Cole added that the survey relates more directly to Guthrie’s role.
Binnington hopes to get the survey out to the student body before the end of the semester. The survey must make it through the institutional review board, but Binnington said “it’s the type of survey that doesn’t require an extensive review.”
“I’m concerned if we do a food insecurity survey at the beginning of an academic year, it isn’t going to tell us very much versus a food insecurity at the end of an academic year, perhaps even into the summer, and asking graduating seniors to participate in it might actually get us a more accurate representation,” Binnington said.
Director of Community Relations William Lowthert, ’24, raised concerns about the high faculty turnover rate and lack of diversity within the faculty, specifically asking Provost and Dean of the Faculty Angela Haddad how the college planned on addressing similar concerns.
“One of the things we’re going to be doing in terms of retention is … we are going to be having a DI (diversity and inclusion) audit across the whole campus, measuring campus climate and our diversity efforts,” Haddad said. “We have some faculty fellows and others that will be participating in that effort so we can get some real data to kind of figure out what is going on.”
ASG’s second guest speaker was Jordan Pallitto, ’06, a representative of The Hill Group, who Cole contracted for his strategic restructuring of the college. Coverage of the restructuring can be found (on page whatever/at this link).
The senior leadership team departed at 8:11 p.m., and GA returned to its regular cabinet reports. Many cabinet members had nothing to report or stated that they were working on their transition reports, as the new cabinet will be sworn in on April 25.
Director of the Treasury Adriana Solis, ’23, noted $12,316.96 being spent from the general fund for ASG, the class of 2023, the class of 2025, the class of 2026 and Students for Environmental Action. $1,900 came out of the surplus fund for the Sustainable Design Team and ASG, and $237 came out of the Culture, Identity and Leadership Coalition fund for International Club.
Class of 2023 President Shira Haus proposed a motion to move $2,000 from the surplus fund into the class of 2023’s budget in case extra funding was needed for senior week after ASG ceases operations for the semester, with any remaining funds left to the rising senior class. The motion went to vote and passed unanimously.
Class of 2025 President and ASG President-Elect Nicole Recio Bremer announced her cabinet nominees and provided brief biographical information to the senate. All nominees were approved.
Recio Bremer’s cabinet, who will be officially appointed next week, includes Lowthert as attorney general; Hunter Goerman, ’25, as director of the treasury; Kaleialoha Froning, ’24, as director of diversity and inclusion; Dejarnette and Autumn Stoneking, ’24, as co-directors of student affairs; Cam Lesher, ’24, as director of community relations; Jude Gotschall, ’26, as director of communication and press; Bianca Sanchez, ’24, as director of sustainability and environmental affairs; Ankitha Pamula, ’24, as parliamentarian; Dasha Kutova, ’25, as chief of staff; and V Belcher, ’26, as director of organizational development.
Water Polo Club passed its second round of voting, making it the last club to be confirmed in the 2022-23 academic year.
During her remarks, Green thanked the Senate and her cabinet members, as it was her last official GA serving as president.
“Thank you for being awesome and going with some of the ideas that I’ve had. And last but not least, Rudra, thanks for getting me elected,” Green said, referring to ASG Vice President Rudra Schultz-Ray, ’23.
The meeting closed at 8:43 p.m.