Wednesday, November 30, 2011

OMSA Advisory Board Meeting Highlights!

The OMSA Advisory Board meets bi-monthly to address the concerns of UChicago’s multicultural community. It is an important asset in helping to ensure that OMSA and the university administration is effectively meeting the needs of the diverse student body. In order to make sure that broader campus community is aware of the concerns the Advisory Board are addressing, the OMSA Blog includes meeting highlights!

Meeting Date: November 15, 2011

Special Guests:
  • Kim Goff-Crews, the Vice President for Campus and Student Life/ Dean of Students
  • Yusef Al-Jarani, Student Government Liasion
  • The OMSA Advisory Board is making changes with its strategy in approaching student concerns. Be on the look out for any upcoming events or presentations in your RSO meetings!
  • University of Chicago has contracts with CTA that allows the 170, 171, and 172 to run with no cost for students. As such, this is why the University does not have the CTA UPass of some form. This was actually determined several years ago based on students preference from surveys. If you have questions concerning transportation or the CTA UPassfeel free to contact the new Director of Transportation & Parking, Theresa Brown
  • The Board expressed concerns over the recent controversy of freedom of expression. They asked: How do you strike the balance between the freedom of expression for students with the institution?
  • Goff-Crews stated: Students are always trying to bring in different aspects of the events from very controversial to popular among the community and they are encourage to do so. The administration enjoys and appreciates students expressing their beliefs and passions, all the while ensuring that students are safe and secure.
  • She asks groups to be very prepared in order to run successful protest or demonstrations and that is what the university strives for. Overall, Goff-Crews and the university staff supports protests and student’s willingness to speak at events, but asks that student groups prepare for all outcomes that could arise
  • Students should also be aware the University’s policy for demonstrations and protests
  • The Board has previously expressed concern over what the message of where to travel in Hyde Park was being distributed. They asked Goff-Crews how the message of “don’t go to these places” could be given to not limit students to travel around the community.
  • Goff-Crews responded that the University’s position is that one can travel wherever they please so long as they do so safely. There is no reason why students should be limited to where they travel, but they do have to be mindful of their own safety.
  • There is the Safety Awareness Program and the Common Sense Manual that students can use to become more aware of the community and how to travel. The university strives to make sure that students are aware of their communities and activities that may be taking place but not to scare students and prevent them from traveling to certain places.
  • The Board expressed concerns over how Goff-Crews attends to the concerns of undergraduate and graduate students. How does her department balance between both and how do they attempt to integrate the different graduate schools between each other?
  • Goff-Crews has departments that are dedicated to targeting both undergraduate and graduate students equally. She tries to address the specific and unique needs of different students by attending to their needs and requests. An example is there is a bigger issue for undergraduates in terms of housing specifically, where undergraduates will live if the incoming class keeps getting bigger. Many of the issues will not have short-term results, but are being looked at for the long-term solution.
  • Goff-Crews has met with students from each of the various departments in the graduate divisions to better understand and address graduate needs. The primary needs are academic and career support and social support. Campaigns are being held to raise funds for more social support and activities.