Last Towne Meeting illustrates importance of student participation, involvement

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May 8 marked the last Towne Meeting of the 2012-2013 school year. Although New College notables including President Donal O’Shea, Provost Stephen Miles, Interim Dean of Students Tracy Murry and Vice President for Finance and Administration John Martin were all in attendance, only about 50 students gathered in the Center of the Universe that Wednesday evening.

A range of issues were brought to the Towne Meeting and voted on. Some came from students while others were brought to the agenda by NCF professional staff members. No matter who the originator, almost every issue was discussed at length. For some, discussion was continued after the Towne Meeting concluded via the student forum.

Although discussion carried on electronically, the only official student input presented to the Board of Trustees for consideration is that of the Towne Meeting. The following issues were just some of those brought to the Towne Meeting and then presented to the Board of Trustees at their meeting on Saturday, May 11. A complete list of topics can be found in the Towne Meeting Minutes posted via email to all students.

Mandatory Course Request System – Provost Stephen Miles

Summary: Provost Miles talked of the importance of the course request system for students to express interest in future courses. He indicated that the course request system would be made mandatory, but requested student input to decide how the mandatory nature of the system would be enforced.

Discussion: Students expressed concern that the course request system would be “binding,” and Provost Miles assured them that the system would not be used at any point to replace mini classes. The option of a fee, as well as an incentive program, was discussed.

Action: Contact Stephen Miles with comments and suggestions at miles@ncf. edu.

Increase in CITF Fee – Michael Long

Summary: Michael Long proposed a $2.00/credit hour increase in the Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF) fee. The student fee increase would make up for a $400,000 budget cut in the fund that resulted from the lost ability to bond moneys in the fund. Long emphasized that the fund would be used to both improve existing community buildings (by addressing deferred maintenance) as well as build new ones. Vice President for Finance and Administration John Martin spoke on the current $3 million in deferred maintenance costs for student facilities. Spaces mentioned were the Four Winds Cafe, Bike Shop, Hamilton Center and Sail Club.

Discussion: Students calculated that the per-credit-hour fee increase would result in a total $72.00/year. Disussion centered around whether that much money was worth the type of improvements student could expect to see. It was emphasized that how the fund was used in the future was open for student input.

Action: A vote was taken and the resolution passed. The vote results were shared with the Board of Trustees.

Four Winds Cafe Liquor License – Andrew Fiorillo

Summary: Andrew Fiorillo proposed that the Four Winds Cafe look into acquiring a liquor license at some point in the future. Fiorillo emphasized that a legal place on campus for students to drink could increase safety as well as make a profit for the student-run cafe.

Discussion: Some students were concerned about the details of the Four Winds serving alcohol, for both employees and the general community. Fiorillo emphasized that the proposal was only to allow the Four Winds to explore the option of a license, so details could be worked out at a later date. President Donal O’Shea expressed that although he also believes, “Kahlua in coffee is quite good,” he also thinks that details are important if a license were to be acquired.

Action: A vote was taken and the resolution passed. The vote results were shared with the Board of Trustees.

[forUm] Trigger Warning Policy – Samuel Thornton

Summary: NCSA Co-President Samuel Thornton proposed that a more explicit system of trigger and content warnings be officially identified in the job description of the forum moderator.

Discussion: There was much controversy over what is considered a trigger warning and what is appropriate to identify as such in a NCSA job description. There was also discussion concerning the details of how the system would be enforced.

Action: After much discussion, quorum was lost and a vote was postponed until the next Towne Meeting in Fall of 2013.

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