Editorial: Semester Grades

As the semester comes to a close, we’re tired of getting grades. It’s our turn to hand them out.

Campus web, wireless technology
Grade: C+

We’ve had some mixed feelings about our campus’s websites and technology. On one hand, we’re happy that Canvas is a major upgrade from Blackboard. Canvas is easier to use and designed more simply.

One site that still needs to change is Student Information System (SIS), which is still unintuitive and as hard to navigate as ever, and its confusing setup can be a source of stress for students when they’re trying to register for classes on time.

While we initially applauded University Technology for its efforts to upgrade our campus Wi-Fi, we’ve been disappointed that there hasn’t actually been much, if any, improvement. Both the CaseGuest and CaseWireless networks still have a tendency to suddenly stop working, especially in areas of certain buildings (Crawford Hall and the A.W. Smith Building, to name a few). While we do appreciate [U]Tech’s effort, we need to see real improvement in campus Wi-Fi.

Communication regarding security
Grade: C

When it comes to security on our campus, we feel like we don’t know what’s going on half the time. We receive security alerts for on- and some off-campus incidents, but we still aren’t given much information about what’s going on with crime in the rest of Cleveland. We don’t expect to receive alerts about crimes that occur far off campus, but we do think that the Division of Public Safety should give us some kind of regular safety update, even if it’s just once or twice per semester, about significant crimes in the area around our campus.

We are disappointed that the Division of Public Safety still has not established a location-based system for determining which crimes will prompt alerts. Last semester, the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman in the Cleveland Institute of Art parking lot, as well as the presence of an active shooter on campus, did not prompt alerts.

We hope to see progress in this area.

Grade: B+

UPB definitely stepped it up this semester. We felt that the A$AP Ferg and 3LAU concert was one of the highlights of the semester, and a definite improvement over last year’s Waka Flocka Flame concert. UPB took some risks with Trick or Trap, but we think they definitely paid off. Other key events included the Arizona concert, which featured a fun promotional event where UPB handed out free AriZona Iced Tea. Many of the students who attended the UPB fall break trip to New York City praised the open itinerary, which allowed them to roam freely through the city. It’s clear that they are more in tune with what students want on campus, and that they know how to set up creative events that are different each time.

Campus life initiatives
Grade: A

This semester, we saw the beginnings of an exciting conversation about student life, and the culmination of dialogues from previous semesters. We can’t wait to see where this discussion will take our campus. For starters, the Division of Student Affairs released its three-year Strategic Plan. The Plan is detailed and ambitious, and includes goals that focus on multiculturality, wellness and creating a sense of belonging. We hope that the Division of Student Affairs will work with Undergraduate Student Government and the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative to help accomplish its goals.

The Student Presidents’ Roundtable joined in the dialogue, with plans to focus on building traditions at CWRU. We’re happy to see that their goals of campus spirit and identity align with those of the Division of Student Affairs, creating the potential for unprecedented collaboration between administrators and students. Federation Week, a new initiative set to roll out in April of next year, will help create new programs for our campus.

We have to say, though, that the Preliminary Recommendations report by the Commission for the Undergraduate Experience definitely takes the cake. The report was bold and honest, making no attempt to hide problems with student satisfaction and retention. We were genuinely impressed with this honesty, as well as the extensive measures the CUE took to create it, including hiring an educational consulting group to better understand how to improve student life. We admire the CUE’s dedication to incorporating student feedback as it works to fix these problems. Last semester, we gave the CUE a B, but this report shows the hard work that’s gone into the initiative to improve student life.

If these organizations continue their difficult work, these dreams can become reality.

Changes to Thwing Center
Grade: A

Once upon a time, we criticized the Thwing Center for having a lack of purpose—we called it an “identity crisis” at the time. Since then, members of our campus community have worked hard to give Thwing Center a makeover, and the building is a far cry from its disorganized past. On the student side, the Commuter and Off Campus Organization helped renovate the Commuter Lounge, giving it a remodeled living room, new furniture and a study space for commuter students to hang out between classes. The SPR created a proposal to renovate the Thwing Center and worked with the Division of Student Affairs to carry out their plans. The proposal led to improvements in the Ballroom such as new paint, new supports to allow dancing and new flooring. The SPR also helped create a much-needed office for the UDC.

On the administration side, Facilities Services initiated a renovation to the Thwing Center’s exterior, with some interior changes as well. Thanks to their work, the Thwing Center now has updated entryways and a resurfaced brick exterior, so it looks more welcoming from Euclid Avenue.

We think it’s great that both staff and students were able to work together to make the Thwing Center safer and more inviting, and we hope that with these changes, it can someday become the central hub for campus spirit that both the CUE report and Strategic Plan envision.

Student organization activism
Grade: B

Our campus, like the rest of the nation, is dealing with a stormy political climate right now. We were proud to see so much activism take place on campus. Our campus’ protest against the repealing of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, led by the Latino student organization La Alianza, sent out a strong statement that “Dreamers” can find support on our campus. This message was reinforced by an email from President Barbara Snyder in which she announced that “Dreamers” are welcome here and that CWRU is against the ending of DACA. When an anti-LGBT flyer showed up on Cleveland State University’s campus, the Feminist Collective started up an online petition asking President Snyder to condemn the flyer, which she did in an email statement the next day. Other notable incidents include the rally against the tax reform bill that will make graduate education inaccessible for many, reinforced by signs staked in KSL Oval.

However, while our campus does provide a supportive environment for activism, we’re not sure how much this activism has actually accomplished. Rallies and public condemnations can only go so far, and we’d like to see more collaboration among organizations to create a stronger voice and involve more campus members. There’s strength in numbers, and if more campus members help support a cause, it will be more impactful.

Get involved in making a difference in our community.