By Taryn Cook
On March 21, the Student Senate and president of the school, Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith, held a town hall in the Waldner Performing Arts Center (WPAC).
It was the second of two; the first one was held in mid-February and this one was originally scheduled for Feb. 23 but was postponed.
She along with Associate Provost Dr. Joshua Landau and Cindi Reisinger, the Senior Executive Assistant to the President, represented the administration and answered questions from the 15 to 20 active students who were there.
Gunter-Smith repeated some of the new plans she has coming to YCP as part of the Strategic Plan 2.0 that will focus on renovating the building across the street from the Kinsley Engineering Center. This building would be a place to revamp career preparation by partnering with local businesses to offer internships and co-ops to students here on campus. It would also include the center for academic excellence and a space to engage all of the scholars’ programs that the school has to offer.
As questions were being raised by students, the topic of transportation on campus was brought up. Students asked why there isn’t access to better public transportation that would take them around the city of York, and why there isn’t a partnership with Rabbit Transit. Gunter-Smith responded by saying that the school has offered it in the past but they didn’t have the ridership to continue it. She continued to say that the global COVID-19 pandemic prompted a lot of people to retire, so that has impacted the school’s ability to maintain shuttle drivers.
This staffing issue did raise other questions regarding the shuttle system, including why it stopped the express schedule and why the trackers on the shuttles stopped working.
Gunter-Smith addressed each problem saying, “Trying to hire people through this is a challenge,” then continued to explain that the parking garage closing affected the need for shuttles in the commuter lots on West Campus during the day. So, the shuttles will stop at all stops around campus and with the new 5G trackers getting installed soon, the shuttles will be able to be tracked once again on the Ride Systems app.
As the second half of the meeting continued Gunter-Smith opened the floor even more asking, “What can the institute do for us [students]?”
The first question raised was about getting lights, crosswalks or signs for Dupont Avenue, the street most students walk on in between Main and West Campus. Gunter-Smith responded that school cannot do anything to help because it is the property of Spring Garden Township. She recommends a petition be started to show that students here on campus want it.
The following issues were answered by Landau. Concerns about flexibility about Zoom classes for both COVID, mental health and disabilities were raised, especially since some teachers are not flexible regarding these issues. Landau stressed that York is an in-person institution, and the hope is to return to what it once was pre-COVID, “We want you here when you’re feeling well, not when you’re ill”.
Landau did also mention a new degree planner coming in the fall that will allow students to look at classes and scheduling differently. Both Gunter-Smith and Landau said they “know the frustration of having classes fall through.” It is not open to students yet, but when it becomes available it will be imperative that every student updates it each semester. This new system will tell the school how many students need which class when. It will be a lifesaver for majors that are small and may only offer classes on a rotating semester or year schedule.
Along similar lines it was also asked why we don’t have specialized tours for other majors in the school where guests can talk with teachers that are in the major. We only have tours like that for Nursing, Engineering, and Business majors. President Gunter-Smith said she is hopeful of restarting them since they were stopped to help mitigate the spread of COVID on campus
As the meeting came to a close, issues such as the dining hall closing for open houses and resident hall questions came up. Director of Residence Life Robbie Bacon was not at the meeting, but it was decided to have a separate focus group for residence life affairs. In terms of the dining hall closing, Gunter-Smith relayed us to talk to Chartwells Dining about it.
Taryn Cook is a sophomore and a Hospitality Management major.