President Hosts Student-Driven Discussions

Christian said he will be visiting each residence hall over the course of the semester.
Christian said he will be visiting each residence hall over the course of the semester.

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian met with students on Feb. 13 to discuss ways to improve the quality of campus life.

Christian visited Gage Hall on Monday night to meet with students and let them voice their concerns about issues such as course availability, construction and possibilities of not graduating on time.

Christian said he will be visiting each residence hall over the course of the semester. Christian first visited Crispell Hall two weeks ago. There was a turn-out of “at least” 50 to 60 students, as opposed to the turn-out of only 30 students on Monday evening.

“We talked about topics all across the map,” Christian said. “We talked about course availability issues, course scheduling, those conversations confirmed for me some of the issues we are aware of and are trying to address. I heard about advising, the value of living in residence halls and insightful observations from students about living in a freshmen style residence hall that doesn’t have suites.”

Christian said while he was interim president last year, he and other administrative members tried to come up with ways to better understand the needs of the student body.

“We talked last year when I was interim president, about how a new president can stay in touch with students and how to do that in the best way,” Christian said. “One of the things I did is form a student advisory group to the president that has been very, very useful for me and useful for the students involved in that.”

The first topic of discussion on Monday was the construction planned to happen over the course of the next five years. Christian talked to students about the future renovations in Wooster Science Building and the plans for a new science building and residence hall.

The new residence hall will be built on the parking lot between Lenape and the Athletic & Wellness Center. The school plans to replace the parking lot with a new one on the tennis courts behind Lenape.

After the talk about construction, students asked about how this will affect the budget cuts from last year. Christian said the money for the new buildings and renovations would not affect the positions of teachers and course availability.

At the end of the discussion, students brought up the hostage incident on Feb. 7 in Deyo Hall. Students raised concerns as to whether the incident will change the way room searches will be conducted and why they didn’t receive emails earlier in the day.

“Student privacy is a very big concern for us,” Christian said. “We don’t want to have to make students and the residence halls uncomfortable with one another.”

At the end of the night, Christian stayed to talk with students on a more personal level, which impressed third-year English and Women’s Studies major Jasmine Shovlin.

“I think it’s great that the president of the campus is making himself so available to the students,” Shovlin said. “It’s really important for students to come out and meet the president, and it’s even more important for them to come out and hear what he has to say.”