Students voice concerns at town hall meeting

On Tuesday, November 12, in the secluded lecture hall that is Beckwith, the professors were shooed away, and the students of Chatham came together for the second annual town hall meeting. Town Hall Meetings in a historical context are a time for the people of a community to come together to voice their opinions about the way things are being done.
In the Chatham Student Government (CSG) moderated town hall meeting, after enjoying coffee and cookies, Chatham students filled the seats of Beckwith to voice their feelings on curricula, the standards of living, food, financial aid and what they think they can be done better.
The students who attended meeting were not shy about sharing their opinions. One topic of particular concern for many of the students is the constantly changing curriculum.
Although some will argue that part of Chatham’s charm is its status as a small college, for some students this can have its drawbacks. Some students feel that with the curriculum changing as professors come and go, there’s a lack of consistency in the way certain subjects are taught.
Another pressing concern for some undergraduates is that more attention and funds are being geared towards the graduate programs than the undergraduate program. Specifically many environmental science majors feel their program is being neglected in favor of the School of Sustainability. As a whole, a lot of science majors feel that the humanities programs are favored over their programs.
Communication was another prime concern. Throughout the meeting students of different majors commented on the lack of information they’ve received in regards to things ranging from books to the academic calendar.
Students feel that often, the administration fails to give them the information they need to make informed choices. Some even feel that advisors and faculty are not “on the same page” when it comes to curricula and checklists.
One shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that this meeting was only about complaints. The students that attended the town hall meeting had plenty of suggestions about ways to improve what they view as problems.
The RAs and residents advocated for fewer Monday night edges, in favor of one large monthly event for residence halls to save money and increase fun. There was also plenty of concern about the lack of maintenance in Eddy Theatre and potential safety hazards that could lead to.
In regards to food, most students feel that in the past year, the quality of food has improved but feel there are improvements to be made. As opposed to the current system, a lot of students would be in favor of being able to use their meal plans whenever they want, wherever they want, for whatever they want.
More than one student voiced their concerns about health. One student told the story of nearly eating undercooked meat in Anderson. Additionally, students who suffer from food allergies are worried about food cross contamination.
Some were concerned that no real changes would happen as a result of the town hall and that it served only as a “venting session,” but when asked, the members of CSG made it clear that was not going to be the case.
Chatham Student Government considers the concerns of the student body to be a priority. The representatives stated that there were things they could not make changes to in regards to the budget, but that they consider themselves to be the liaison between the students and administration and are committed to students feeling that they have a voice.
“We’re always striving to be more transparent,” said CSG member Jenny Schollaert.
Only time will tell what changes will be made in the wake of the Town Hall, but CSG has promised to keep the student body updated and is always open to suggestions.