Editorial: Semester Grades Fall 2018

Editorial Staff

With finals fast approaching, The Observer wanted to wrap up the semester by handing out grades. We reviewing some of our editorials from throughout the semester and compiled our thoughts into these grades. Next semester there will be even more news on campus, and we look forward to both covering and analyzing it in the months that follow.

Communication & Security: C-

The shooting of a student on Nov. 3 reopened a number of questions regarding both safety and communication on campus. While the incident was thankfully nonfatal, it revealed a number of issues related to Case Western Reserve University’s preparedness for violence on campus.

For starters, the CWRU Rave notification system was not, as we had hoped, well-adapted for a pressingly dangerous situation. Yes, the campus was informed both by text and email that a shooting had occurred. But this came over 40 minutes after the first shots, rather than as soon as campus security was aware of an active shooter situation.

The aftermath was also not as smooth as one would hope. Administrators did reach out to campus through mass emails, and a press conference with President Barbara Snyder and other high-ranking officials was held the next afternoon. Furthermore, there was considerable attention given to their Facebook Live Q&A which ended up being just 10 minutes long and answered only a few of the student body’s questions. It was also during this Q&A that they made reference to the fact that campus only had “about four” Safe Ride drivers, not nearly enough for an urban campus of more than 5,000 undergraduate students.

Progress has been good thus far, with more Safe Ride drivers being added as well as extended hours for Daylight Saving Time. The general security presence has also been increased, helping ease the peace of mind for residents of South Side areas that were hot spots for muggings.

Hopefully, these staff changes will be paired with improvements in communication for the coming semester.

Diversity: B-

The fall semester was up-and-down for diversity efforts around campus.

A positive response can be found in the campus reaction to anti-Semitic rhetoric that appeared around campus in the form of fliers and graffiti in bathroom stalls. Snyder hosted a discussion on Nov. 26 so students could voice their questions and comments, enabling dialogue on an oft-forgotten issue. Paired with the condemnation Snyder vocalized in an email to the student body, the controversy was handled as well as you could’ve asked.

But the administration also made a questionable decision when they chose to cut two tenure-track positions in African-American history, as well as a postdoctoral position. While the postdoctoral position has since been restored, the ambiguity and lack of communication regarding the situation has fueled both confusion and resentment. If the university does not reinstate these positions, it would demonstrate a rather out-of-touch view of this campus’s role in the Cleveland community.

There were some other significant actions, such as the filing of an amicus curiae brief in support of Harvard University’s defense in a Supreme Court hearing related to affirmative action policies. The two major actions we’ve discussed, however, best exemplify how this campus is nurturing diversity across campus.

Housing: C-

CWRU started off the semester with fun new dilemma: too many first-year students, not enough dorm space.

Immediately, there was a scramble to find room for these incoming students. Clarke Tower’s second-year floors were reduced in number. Stephanie Tubbs Jones Residence Hall, traditionally reserved for third- and fourth-year students, found some of its rooms occupied by groups of first-year students. Many upperclassmen were displaced, having to move to other facilities such as the Triangle Apartments or Euclid on 115. While credit can be given to the university for providing alternate accommodations, housing once again has proven to be a point of difficulty for CWRU.

Beyond overcrowding, CWRU never followed through on a promise to put new furniture in all the first-year dorms. Numerous buildings have suffered infrastructural issues, such as Howe House’s elevator breaking down leaving students on the 5th through 9th floors to use the stairs.

The familiar problems of mechanical failures, combined with the newer ones related to space, paint a fairly grim picture of the state of CWRU housing.

Transportation: C+

Recently, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and CWRU announced the extension of the hours of the Safe Ride service by an additional hour. At least until the middle of March, students will be able to request a Safe Ride starting at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. with the end time remaining at 3 a.m. The reason for the lengthening is the end of Daylight Saving Time at the beginning of November. This is definitely a positive step forward for the campus, and it shows the administration responding positively to student voices, who pushed for longer hours. Of course, there will still be long waits at peak Safe Ride hours, namely weekend nights, but at least students won’t have to walk home in the dark at 6:30 p.m. anymore.

In other Safe Ride news, during the Facebook livestream following the shooting on Nov. 3 CWRU Chief of Police Jay Hodge admitted there were only “about four” Safe Ride drivers on campus. Now, The Observer has noticed an uptick in Safe Ride vehicles driving around campus, a good response to the backlash of students shocked about the low Safe Ride numbers. But we were still disappointed, along with the rest of campus, to find out about such low numbers.

The other main transportation on campus, the shuttles affectionately known as “Greenies,” are also working to be improved. USG is working with the administration to address student concerns about the system including random breaks, off-route shuttles and an ineffective mobile app. While The Observer is glad the administration is considering additions or changes, we would like the changes to be made sooner rather than later.

Overall, transportation has been an issue on campus this semester, but we see potential improvements for the spring.

Renovations: A

Several changes to campus were made over the past semester, both in buildings and in the exterior green spaces.

The Nord Greenway was completed, improving views of Wade Oval from the Tinkham Veale University Center. With its fresh grass and stadium lights, it is perfect for hosting athletic clubs and other university events such as Springfest. Both Strosacker Auditorium and Tomlinson Hall were renovated at the end of the summer as well, refreshing the looks of the two buildings for the upcoming academic year. New seating in and a remodeled entrance for Strosacker gave a much-needed facelift to one of the most frequented buildings on the entire campus.

Plans were also announced for a new attachment to the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center, which would provide more space and room for theater programs. The modern-looking addition was funded primarily by an outside donor, and is overall a good representation of the numerous areas of campus being brought into the 21st century.

We hope that similar renovations to first-year living spaces will appear in the coming years.