An interactive view of Webster University's campus.
Students present issues at Delegates Agenda
Students at this semesters Delegates’ Agenda chose five topics to present to President Elizabeth Stroble and Webster’s administration.
Junior Casslyn Crain and sophomore Gabrielle Deimeke presented TurboVote; a voting initiative aimed to promote voting at the university through an optional, online program.
Colleges across the country use TurboVote to engage student voters, Deimeke said.
“TurboVote partners with universities to provide students with all the information and materials they need to vote in every election,” Deimeke said. “It could be implemented through processes in which all students enter during new student registration or online class registration.”
TurboVote’s “New Standard for Campus Voter Engagement” aims to “institutionalize” voting in every college in America by fall 2014. Crain said the company’s plan involves keeping students up-to-date on all elections, regardless of size.
Deimeke said most students are not aware they can register to vote in the Webster Groves district if they live on campus. She said by making information available to students and using TurboVote’s voting reminders, the university can increase voter participation.
“If we get involved in the community, we can learn to better express ourselves and become leaders within the community,” Deineke said.
TurboVote would cost the university $1000 for the first 4000 students and $250 dollars for each additional 100 students, Deimeke said.TurboVote would be implemented at Webster by spring 2014 and eventually nationwide.
The second issue addressed at Delegates’ Agenda was the lack of on-campus housing at Webster. Senior Christopher Whitmore and sophomore Syreel Mishra expressed the need for more housing for students who want to live on campus.
Whitmore said the university is housing more students than it ever has. Currently the university houses 732 students, with an additional 10 students being housed in the Chamberlain Apartments through a university lease program.
“Currently, Webster University is embarking on an incredible period of expansion and development. However, one key aspect of our expansion has yet to reach its growth spurt; additional on-campus housing,” Whitmore
Mishra said over 900 students applied for housing in the Spring of 2013, and with enrollment rates increasing, the demand of housing also has risen.
“The housing needs of all of these students cannot be met because of the scarcity of housing,” Mishra said. “Almost 138 students are on the waitlist. Ninety eight of those students are freshmen or transfer students.”
Students deserve time to
adjust to their new environment, Mishra said.
“These students are new to
St. Louis, they need time to adjust,” Mishra said. “We know students who live on campus and gain the full college experience obtain excellence in their future careers.”
Whitmore said the shortage of housing falls short of student expectations.
Sophomores Jonathan Strauser and Jocelyn Cato and junior Ronnie Hampton presented the dining issues; the delegates feel there is a need for a more diverse, healthy and flexible dining menu.
“Dining issues has been on the Delegates’ Agenda eight times,” Strauser said. “We know that dining is a slow process, but with a little more gas we could speed it up.”
Cato said a lack of healthy food options, late night dining and diversity of meals has been a problem for students for a long time. She said students with dietary restrictions often feel helpless when looking for suitable food on campus.
“Students don’t know what’s going on, they feel very uninformed,” Cato said. “There is not necessarily an incentive for Sodexo to change because they’re going to receive money anyway.”
Cato said Webster should be able to provide a selection of food as diverse as its student population.
The group offered several solutions to dining issues on campus such as better communication with students, use of Sodexo’s Mindful program – which is a meal plan that offers more nutritional options to students – use of local and organic food and several other plans for healthier, more diverse meals.
Junior Stu Macki and sophomore Tia Hewuse presented wellness issues to the administrion. The fitness center, which was built in 1992, is out-of-date and in need of renovations, Hewuse said.
The presenters said it could be possible to build a new fitness center by filling in the university’s pool. Hewuse said the pool is not used by most Webster students and could be better used as a new fitness center.
Student Government Association’s Student Organization Liason Alex Bonney said filling in the pool could have a negative effect on the university’s relationship with the Webster Groves community. He said the pool is often used for community activities and is a good tool for reaching out to the community.
Other wellness solutions given by the presenters included buying new equipment for the fitness center, adding a new graduate assistant position to wellness education and hiring a full-time employee to run the Gorlok Fitness Club.
Fitness Center supervis
or and Delegates’ Agenda attendee Zeke Spellazza addressed the administration after the wellness presentation. He said Webster’s apathy towards the fitness center is unacceptable.
“It’s bigger than revamping the fitness center or getting new equipment. It’s a place for students to interact and get that involvement. If we are satisfied with the current facility that we have, that’s what we are telling everyone that comes here that we’re satisfied with; not the best, that we are satisfied with providing less than quality to the students,” Spellazza said. “We are basically saying as a university, your care
s, or your needs are not what we are really trying to provide. If we want that to become our Webster University Persona, then I don’t know if I really want to be a part of that.”
Seniors Katie Coats and Katie Rochester presented solutions for smoking on campus to the administration.
The presenters said smoking issues on campus brings up problems for smokers and nonsmokers alike.
For smokers, Rochester said the college should create a support group for students who are trying to quit smoking. She said the college should also take steps to provide covered smoking areas for smokers to avoid inclement weather.
Coats said non-smokers face the issue of avoiding smokers on-campus and students not following the “30-feet rule;” a rule asking students to smoke 30 feet away from entrances to school buildings.
The presenters asked for the administration to resolve this issue by enforcing the smoking rules already in place and providing covered smoking areas on-campus.