The topic of Student Government's most recent meeting with President Don Randel dealt with two critical issues pertaining to student life: the financial health of the University and the rising costs of education. The substance of the conversation was both informative and important for students to know.
First, Student Government informed Randel of student concern over the strength and vigor of financial aid under the present financial restraints. A growing number of students have raised concerns to Student Government about tuition costs and whether future financial aid packages will account for such increases. President Randel assured us of the financial stability of the endowment, saying that important aspects of student life, such as financial aid and campus construction, are unlikely to be significantly affected by changes to the endowment. Randel also communicated his willingness to engage students in this discussion, and stated that it was his intention to keep financial aid awards in pace with future tuition increases.
Second, there are growing concerns over the increasing day-to-day living costs incurred by students, as evidenced by the University's new printing policies and the higher prices in Bartlett, the C-Shop, and Hutch. Though they force students to be more cognizant of their printing use and meal spending, new printing policies and higher food rates translate into greater out-of-pocket expenses for students. On this topic as well Randel offered his insight and demonstrated his willingness to work with Student Government and interested students in thinking about the impact of the financial health of the University and the rising costs of education on the quality of this student body.
Following Student Government's meeting, interested students met the President during his quarterly brown bag lunch and engaged him in a candid dialogue about other issues and concerns dear to them. One of the most developed themes during the discussion was the relationship between the university and the community. Specifically, several students displayed interest in what was to become of the former Meridian Theater on 53rd Street owned by the University and the steps the administration are taking to enliven and further integrate our community. Randel explained that several focus groups composed of students, administrators, and community leaders have met to discuss the new function of the theater. Furthermore, he explained that several initiatives are underway to develop more retail businesses in the area for students to buy the many things they need as well as to engender more jobs and benefits for the neighborhood. Finally, the President reminded students that the University is the 5th largest employer in the Chicago region and the largest on the South Side, and that the University took this role very seriously, and would continue to support the local community to the best of its ability.
Another major issue on the minds of the students and the President was the prospect of war with Iraq. Randel was interested in hearing about the position of students on this hot topic and many students replied by highlighting the growing anti-war activism that had taken place on campus. The discussion concluded with some reflections about the possible outcomes and the impact the war would have on our university. The possibility of war is one of many fruitful discussions expected to continue during next quarter's brown bag lunch.
Student Government's meetings and the Brown Bag Lunch series are unique and effective ways for students to voice their opinions to the administration. The President has shown over the course of his tenure that he is willing to discuss the most pressing issues and concerns in the minds of students. Student Government has addressed many important topics this year and will continue to do so, but we encourage the student body to make its voice heard by joining us at all our events including the Brown Bag Lunch series. We have an opportunity to make things better, let's seize it together!