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Students have questions, campus leaders offer answers

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Jinit Desai, a freshman in neurosciences, talks with Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares after a question-and-answer session March 28 in Student Center East.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Some of the questions were serious: can advisers do more to help students graduate in four years?

Some questions were about things everyone wants to know, but no one knows who to ask: why is there scaffolding around University Hall?

And a few questions — well, the inquisitor probably knew the answer before it was asked: “Can I do a BASE jump from University Hall at the end of the semester?”

But a promise was made to answer all questions submitted by email or in person at Afternoon Break, a Q&A session last week with Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Barbara Henley and student trustee Ken Thomas.

“I hope you’re as proud of UIC as I am, but there’s always room for improvement,” Allen-Meares said.

Nearly 100 students came to the March 28 session in Student Center East to ask questions, or get answers. Most seemed pleased to have a face-to-face meeting with the people at the top.

“I thought it was really nice for the chancellor to be here,” said Slobodan Aleksov, a sophomore in communication.

“There were some really good questions,” said Juan Martinez, a graduate student in sociology and a member of the Graduate Student Council, one of the event’s sponsors.

“Sometimes people think students are apathetic. That’s not the case here.”

In response to comments about campus food, Henley said the contract with the current provider, Sodexo, is up for review and invited students to share their comments with Mike Landek, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, at mlandek@uic.edu

Other questions concerned issues like campus crime (compared to other campuses, UIC has less reported crime), the headliner for the next Spark in the Park outdoor concert (wait to be surprised), a football team (go to the basketball games!) and new shuttle buses (three have been ordered and should be here by fall semester).

The most spirited discussion revolved around the question of customer service raised by Gavin Quinn, a junior in criminal justice and political science.

Several students said it wasn’t so much that staff members are rude — it was their lack of answers to basic questions like “where’s the lost and found”? (Answer: the service centers at Student Center East and Student Center West.)

They chimed in with suggestions, ranging from better staff training to a UIC help hotline.

“Together we came up with different answers and solutions,” Quinn said afterwards. “I look forward to seeing what happens.”

Answers given to the questions mentioned at the beginning of the story:

• LAS has proposed a program to enhance its advising program, but students are responsible for tracking their own progress.

• Engineers who inspected the building facade recommended the scaffolding for protection from falling concrete.

“Fixing UH is not a priority,” Allen-Meares said. “What’s more important are the classrooms.”

• As for the BASE jump from the top of University Hall (using a parachute to break the fall): “Let me ask: why might I say no to that request?” she said.


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