Annual Report of the Student Life Committee (AY2010-11)

General:

The Student Life Committee is composed of faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students.  Attendance at the meetings was good.  The administrative liaisons, Peter Baigent and Jerry Stein along with Kevin Kelly, are regular attendees at the scheduled meetings. 

Issues brought to the Committee:

Members of the academic community as well as committee members brought various issues to the attention of the committee for discussion and or resolution.  Among these are the following:

At the first meeting the elimination of the service that picked up foreign graduate students at the airports was discussed.  Bill Ahrens was asked to report to the committee about the fee and the discontinuation of this service.  This issue began our extensive discussions on student fees at SBU. 

At the beginning of the AY many thought that new fees as well as increases in our current fees will be part of our future.   At this time there was no obvious transparency on how fees are spent and who has input into these decisions.  There was a general opinion that the fee distribution scheme should be public and there should be opportunities for students who pay these fees to comment of any distribution schemes.  Peter Baigent initiated discussions with the administration about this issue that ultimately resulted in the construction of a web site that described how the fee are allocated, the amount of proposed increases, and how students could comment on these fees.  It is the committee’s plan this next AY to see how these procedures have worked. http://www.stonybrook.edu/bursar/tuition/fees/
The removal of the squash courts from the Sports Complex led to the question of how are these issues that affect students are made.  Are students part of process?  With respect to this issue, we are at an awkward time because the Athletic Department is getting out of recreational sports but the Recreational Complex has not yet been completed.

At different meetings, James Fiore addressed athletics and Susan DiMonda addressed recreation at Stony Brook.  Both of these individuals gave excellent presentation leaving the Committee with the impression that SBU has a bright future in student athletics as well as recreational sports. 

There discussions on mental health facilities available at SBU to students who have been identified to be disturbed.  This discussion led to the conclusion that the University is well prepared to deal with problem students once they have been identified.

Deborah Machalow, a student in the Honors College, asked to address the Committee.  She stated that there is a serious problem in the Honors College.  Apparently, there is a lack of trust between the students and staff that is so bad that it is affecting the function on the Honors College.  Although there was general agreement that this was more of an academic/personnel issue it was decided that the Chair would write a letter to Charles Robbins alerting him to this problem and offering the services of the Committee in any way possible to solve this problem.  He replied that he is aware of the problem and working towards a solution.

At various times the committee addressed concerns about student services that would be cut back because of budget constraints.  Matthew Graham, the student president, conducted a survey.  Although there was some controversy regarding the accuracy of the survey, the students made some interesting points.  Among these is the confusion about all of the funds being allocated for construction projects but few resources for their education.  The issue of primary concern was the survey result that demonstrated that, for financial reasons, a number of students would have to leave the University if tuition and fees were increased by $400.  Since these students would represent a cross section of academic excellence, the University would suffer by their departure.  The survey leads to the conclusion that any increases in fees and tuition should be of a size that would allow assistance to economically challenged students.  It was also concluded from the survey that students were most receptive to changes that protected their major or courses that were necessary for achieving their career goals. 

The last item the Committee addressed was Army ROTC on the SBU campus.  Undergraduate students requested that the Committee support the formation of a study group to make a recommendation to the University President on the initiation of ROTC on the SBU campus.  Since this has an academic component the Committee wrote a letter to the Senate President supporting the student’s request.

Reports:

Reports from members of the academic community were given to the Committee.  Among these are the following:

Peter Baigent delivered a report at the first meeting on the status of the University and the nature of the incoming class.

Norman Goodman gave a report on Southhampton.

Sue Dimonda gave a PowerPoint presentation on the new recreational center and the facilities that are being planned.

James Fiore and Donna Woodruff described their vision for student scholar/athletes.  They stated that there is NCAA mandated advisory committee, appointed by the University President, that has student members and is involved in decision making affecting student athletics.

Lyle Gomes gave a presentation on student fees.  He addressed the main issues of transparency and user input to fee allocations.  Letters were sent to all students on fees and directing them to the web site on fees.

Sherry Chang made a presentation and led a valuable discussion the Library Services.  Some important comments were the following:

  1. The library staff has recently shrunk by 30%.
  2. This is very low and considerably below libraries at other research universities.
  3. In spite of these cuts it is intended that the library will not curtail any of its hours open to students.  They are still looking at creative ways to have the library open for additional hours for students and enhancing internet services. 
  4. There was a discussion in the library to charge for interlibrary loans.  Because of the impact this fee could have on students the Committee believed these charges are not in the best interests of the University.  Currently, there are no plans to implement interlibrary loan charges. 
  5. There are plans to connect the student (aka commuter lounge with the SINC center.

Peter Baigent distributed a partial organizational chart of the University giving the structure of Student Affairs and its relationship to President Stanley.  VP Baigent, using the Student Affairs web site, then led an informative discussion of student affairs at Stony Brook (the link to this web site is given below)

http://studentaffairs.stonybrook.edu/stu/briefingbook/bb2009-10/index.html

Members (Kenneth Myers, Matt Graham, and Peter Molloy) of the Student government delivered and made a presentation of their survey on the impact of tuition/fee increases. 

Emily Hutton and Morgan Tan gave a presentation on ROTC activities currently active at SBU.  The goal of their presentation was for the Student Life Committee to endorse a request to have SBU serve as a host institution for the Army ROTC.