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Restructuring in Student Life continues to raise quesions: Students reaction to the sudden termination of three key staff members

Sept. 27, 2012

By Sarah Shannon

The reconstruction of the Department of Student Life is like any other construction project, ongoing.

Students are now more aware of the situation. However, it does not mean they agree with what is going on.

One student, Kai Alexander, expressed her concerns through a petition she sent out via Orgsync.

“To my knowledge,” Alexander said, “Orgsync was created as a tool to communicate electronically on a mass level with other student organizations.”

She said the ideal purpose of the petition is for the jobs lost in Student Involvement to be reinstated. If this is not possible, a position should be created where Dr. Mary Myers, Steve Liss and Bill Russell still play a role with student involvement.

Alexander wants the petition, if nothing else, to make the administration aware how their decisions directly affect student organizations.

When asked about the administration’s reaction to her petition, Alexander said that they did not ask her to remove the petition.

“They did not care for me using VikeBlast to spread the word of my petition,” Alexander mentioned.

Not all students share the same view as Alexander.

Anthony Vrataric, President of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity, thinks that a petition is not necessary.

“We should see where things go and who is hired in the new position before jumping to conclusions,” Vrataric said. “Then, once we see that things are not where we want them, officially set up a petition. Regardless, we all need to stick together to see things through. That is the only way we can have an actual impact and voice in the restructuring process and keep an open means of communication.”

Dr. James Drnek, Dean of Students and Vice Provost for Student Affairs, does not object to students creating petitions.

“I’m committed to making sure students have a voice,” Drnek said.

The feedback Alexander has received from her petition is quite consistent. Students feel the entire staff that was let go was a valuable asset of Cleveland State. Some even said that without Dr. Meyers there is no sense of direction anymore.

Like many students, Alexander did not know why such a big decision was made and implemented right at a crucial time for the department – right when all student organizations were registering and setting everything up for the semester.

Many other students have expressed the same concern.

Drnek, when asked, agreed that this would have made sense to have done this in the summer.

“It took longer than we thought it was going to take,” Drnek commented. “It would have been more organized.”

When asked why it took longer and the reasoning for the firing of three employees, Drnek replied that a good portion of it had to do with personal matters he could not speak on.
However, he did mention a positive outcome of the reconstruction occurring during the semester.

“This allows students to be allowed in part of the conversation.”

Drnek said this reorganization puts Student Life in a position to meet certain benchmarks that have not been met before.

Search committees have been formed for the three new positions available in Student Life; Assistant Dean of Student Engagement, Coordinator of Student Activities, and a Coordinator of Commuter Affairs and Student Programs.

When candidates for these positions have been found, on-campus interviews will take place with time for students to meet with the candidates and ask any questions they may have. Feedback to the department will be expected and welcomed.

The department plans to have all three positions filled by the beginning of spring semester.

Bob Bergmann will relocate to the Student Involvment offices and any student organizations with questions or who need assistance are to contact him.

Unlike the openness of Dr. Meyers’ office, Bergmann will have one hour walk in periods per day. All other times must be scheduled appointments.

This has some students concerned.

“You could walk into Dr. Meyers’ office whenever you need something, were confused about setting things up for you org, or even just to talk,” one Cleveland State student said (they wished to remain anonymous). “This just seems like it will make things more complicated for students.”

Drnek’s reply to this, “It’s going to be an adjustment.”

He is confident that Bergmann can handle this position. He has previous experience on other campuses with student organizations.

Drnek suggests the students use email for students to communicate with Bergmann. It will make it easier to determine what type of appointment is needed or if everything can just be done through Orgsync, as many things have transitioned to.

“Appointments help people plan,” Drnek added.

While things are still in transition, confusion is still expected.

However, students have proved thay are not fearful to express their confusion, or other feelings, to the Department of Student Life.