Campus climate – B-
Overall, Case Western Reserve University does its best to welcome students of all backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and identities. The administration did well in releasing a statement that reiterated their support for all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients as the Supreme Court decides whether the Trump administration can end the program. CWRU even went a step further by joining 164 other universities in filing an amicus brief in support of the program.
Broadly, CWRU tries to provide an inclusive environment. However, some areas, such as representation, seem to be overlooked. CWRU boasts of its student diversity and, to an extent, faculty diversity—see Professor Deepak Sarma’s letter to the editor a few weeks ago about how the university used him as a token of diversity in its marketing. The majority of professors, especially full professors, are white. The university does itself a disservice by not addressing this fact. They continue using seemingly colorblind recruitment and hiring policies rather than addressing institutional problems and inequalities.
Transportation – D+
Electric scooters have seemingly taken over the campus. While they do provide an alternative to walking home late at night, they also are much more complex than just a “sustainable” means of transit on campus. Their sustainability has also especially been called into question, as they must be gathered by a car or truck in order to be recharged. Students may also be unsafe or disrespectful to pedestrians while riding.
The Safe Ride program also acts as a resource for students to use when trying to get home safely. However, recent events have shed light on some ambiguities that must be addressed, specifically regarding the protocol when students are drunk and trying to use the service. Proper discussions between students, the administration and Safe Ride drivers are necessary to ensure it fulfills its objective of providing a safe ride.
USG Initiatives – A-
The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) is pursuing some progressive initiatives to improve the student experience and campus life. Among these are efforts to address food insecurity by creating a system in which students can give their unused swipes away to other students. In another initiative, USG is trying to work with the dining halls to ensure there are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as well as transparency about ingredients of meals. USG is also taking on accommodations, trying to provide closed captioning for MediaVision class recordings.
Overall, USG has worked to become more transparent with their goals and strives to better the CWRU campus for all students. They reiterated this statement with their email sent to all students in support of undocumented and DACA recipient students.
Accommodations & Accessibility – B-
Many buildings on campus seem to be lacking accessibility features, including braille on signs and handicap buttons to open doors into popular buildings, such as Fribley Commons. Furthermore, Mather House, surrounded by stairs on all sides, is completely inaccessible to anyone using a wheelchair. However, CWRU does well in providing free counseling to any student on campus. And, if the student is not feeling that a particular professional is helping, the university will help them find another person. Furthermore, this semester, University Health and Counseling Services partnered with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to hold “InterSEXtions” conversations, centered around intersecting identities.
Activism – C+
Frankly, CWRU has little activist culture. Individual students and select campus groups are working to address the problems of our time—health disparities, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, gun violence, the Opioid Epidemic and so forth. For example, Radical Student Union partnered in solidarity with John Carroll University to host a drag show after their own university administration cancelled it on account of “divisiveness.” However, in the university as a whole and regarding administrative responses, there is very little collective demand for action on pressing social, political and economic issues. There is some hope that clubs and organizations are trying to change this precedent, with the CWRU Sunrise Movement’s protest to demand action on climate change, for instance. We may be slowly seeing an improvement here.
Food – C-
Food on and off campus has been a rollercoaster this semester. It started after CWRU refused to renew the lease for Simply Greek to remain among the restaurants in Uptown. Known for their classic Mediterranean cuisine, the $5 gyro on the weekends was always a favorite. The start of the semester also brought the change in management of Rough Rider, quickly ushering in disappointment from students. Just a few weeks ago, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, the popular coffee shop in Little Italy, announced it was closing and leaving the area. The change or loss of these restaurants has been counteracted only by the welcoming of Insomnia Cookies to Uptown.