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Tensions rise at open meeting

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Tensions rise at open meeting

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An open meeting between administration and students brought communications issues and  tension to the forefront. The open meeting occurred on Sept. 8 at 4:00 p.m. in the Harry Sudakoff Conference Center.

Sudakoff was filled with approximately  60 students and members of faculty who were allowed to speak one-on-one with President Donal O’Shea, Provost Stephen Miles and Dean of Student Affairs Tracy Murray. Counseling and Wellness (CWC) Psychological Fellow Duane Khan acted as a facilitator.

Attendees were allowed to raise their hands to ask questions directly while a screen displayed a phone number where individuals could directly send a message that would be read anonymously by Health Educator Mandy Parente who was also present.

The hands of audience members remained raised for the duration of the open meeting which lasted for over two hours. Additionally, over 90 messages were sent to the anonymous phone number.

Highlights of the open meeting included  questions about the medical amnesty policy, the criterion for probable cause that allows a faculty member to open a dorm room without permission, and feelings of a lack of community this school year.

Particularly emotionally charged moments occurred when attendants voluntarily shared personal testimonials of interactions with administration and the New College Police Department (NCPD). In one moment, second year and student representative Lorraine Cruz shared concern over whether the effort put into being a part of the task force was a waste of time.

“It was a pleasure to work with you,” Khan said directly to Cruz during the meeting. “What you did mattered.“

Another notable moment occurred when Murray was confronted by students, some of whom were Orientation Leaders, who had heard a controversial statement that Murray had told the first year students about a lack of community between the incoming class and the rest of the student body.

“I will apologize to anything I said during Orientation [Week],” Murray said.

A comical moment occurred when O’Shea was reminded by thesis-student Patricia “Tricia” Johnson that he had an open invitation to attend all Towne Meetings held by the New College Student Alliance (NCSA). There was also talk of extending office hours for students to come in and speak with the president.

O’Shea, who had to leave early, gave one final message to the room as he left “This conversation to be continued.”

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