October 27, 2016

Delegates’ Agenda returns with new structure after semester hiatus

Students Brenda Tinnemeyer and Angela Meng conclude their presentation, along with SGA president C. Wiley.  | JESSICA KARINS / The Journal

Students Brenda Tinnemeyer and Angela Meng conclude their presentation, along with SGA president C. Wiley. | JESSICA KARINS / The Journal

After a semester hiatus, Delegate’s Agenda returned Sept. 28 with five areas of concern Webster University will respond to throughout the academic year.

The topics, chosen by Webster’s Student Government Association (SGA) based on the results of a survey of students, were health services, advising, diversity, food and the Global Citizenship Program.

The process of Delegate’s Agenda, a long-standing Webster tradition, has changed somewhat this year. Instead of an open meeting to vote on the agenda topics, they are now chosen by SGA based on the results of a student survey.

Also, instead of a one-time response by the administration, committees will be formed around each of the issues to work towards solutions throughout the year. These will include students, faculty and staff.

SGA members Brenda Tinnemeyer and Angela Meng presented on issues with Webster’s health services. The department is currently staffed by only one registered nurse, which is supervised by a physician located two miles away.

Tinnemeyer and Meng said students were concerned the offices were understaffed and no transportation to other healthcare providers was available, as well as with inadequate insurance options for international students.

“Students need additional resources and more options to pick from to meet specific needs,” Tinnemeyer said.

Students Ethan Stohs and Kat Bush presented the topic of advising, which covered the differences in advising programs among schools and advisors’ perceived lack of knowledge about program requirements, both of which they said lead to frustration among students.

“If we can’t get proper advising on what classes to take or when it’s best accessible for us to take certain courses, then we can’t successfully get a degree in a certain time period,” Stohs said.

Bush said other schools might benefit from following the School of Communications’ model of dedicating specific personnel to advising.

The third topic, diversity and inclusion, was presented by students Kalani Seaver and Brittany Madison. Seaver said inclusivity on campus includes everything from gender-neutral restrooms and wheelchair accessibility to making sure commuter students feel welcome.

Seaver and Madison said they want the diversity committee to focus on the changing definitions of diversity and on making sure all students can think of Webster as a “home away from home.” 

“We also feel like diversity means nothing without inclusion,” Madison said. “Having a group of people together from different backgrounds doesn’t mean anything unless they all feel welcome and comfortable.”

Students Shikha Ralleigh and Dina Sallam discussed issues with Webster’s on-campus dining options. They said many students were not happy with the food options available.

“They want students to think of more healthier options and more options which they can have on a daily basis, not fancy, greasy or fried food,” Sallam said.

Areas that students were concerned about included the lack of healthy options, the unavailability of many dining options during weekends and nights and broken or mislabeled vending machines. Some students also said they were disappointed with the “Gorlok Bucks” program for off-campus dining, which now only allows purchases from three vendors instead of an initial 15.

Finally, the topic of the Global Citizenship Program (GCP) was covered by students Andrew Young and Megan Price.

Price said the requirements can be unclear for new students, especially if they are transferring, and that too few transfer credits and classes at Webster can be counted towards GCP requirements. Students also cannot count classes within their majors towards GCP.

“The biggest problem that students are having with this is that they are taking heavy course loads, both for dual majors and single majors,” Young said. “They are taking heavy classes and they’re trying to graduate on time, and they’re wanting to take classes that are focusing more on their degree, and not so much on the GCP.”

SGA president C. Wiley said three other topics were frequently mentioned by students on the survey, but were not included because the university is already working towards changes. These were smoking on campus, technical problems with the Connections system and the cost of textbooks.

The next step, Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble said, will be assembling the committees to work on the presented topics.

“I do think the new format is working well so far,” Stroble said.

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