S: Strong Start for Stark
After more than 26 years of dedicated service as the vice president of student affairs, Glen Nicholls retired from the position at the end of last spring. He was replaced by Louis Stark, who quickly proved to be the perfect choice for the job. Stark has reimagined the role the Division of Student Affairs plays in the lives of CWRU students, from improving the division’s connection with graduate students to launching an intensive, division-wide strategic planning process. Get this man a cape, there’s a new student crusader in town.
With the unveiling of a lawsuit against CWRU and Dean Lawrence Mitchell, the School of Law quickly descended into a game of pointed fingers. The complaint against Mitchell claimed that he had retaliated against a faculty member who had spoken up about the dean’s alleged sexual advances on students and staff. Mitchell claimed the staffer was simply a disgruntled employee. As of yet, the case has not been resolved, but it has already had a devastating impact on the reputation of CWRU, forcing Mitchell to take a temporary leave of absence. True or not, the allegations are serious and demand impartial examination by parties outside the university. Even worse, the timing of the lawsuit coincided with the implementation of the interim sexual harassment policy, which came into effect in August and will be finalized later this year. Needless to say, the School of Law and university administration may be in need of some serious introspection when it comes to matters of sexual harassment.
A: Accelerated Internet
On Nov. 20 the Division of Information Technology Services announced that this month, Case Western Reserve will be the first university in Ohio to upgrade its network connection to 100 gigabits, connecting it to Ohio Academic Resource network, which gives CWRU access to other research universities. The improved network is funded by a National Science Grant, and it will greatly benefit researchers at the university. It will surely be received with open arms by CWRU students, who are probably among the first to complain about slow network connections. Data sharing will never be the same again on this campus.
W: Wishful Thinking
The Tinkham Veale University Center is starting to take its final shape and it definitely looks promising; however, there are a few issues that only provoke tepid feelings towards the project. The overall planning and construction of the space is being spearheaded by Campus Planning and Facilities Management, not the Division of Student Affairs. As a result, the structure is turning into a showpiece for alumni rather than an asset for students. Meanwhile, the repurposing of Thwing Center is still up in the air. While the university center will provide several student groups with exceptional facilities, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the center is not primarily a student space. As a result, the next best hope lies in transforming Thwing Center into a student hub that provides exceptional meeting space and centralizes currently discombobulated student services.
C: Crippling Debt
CWRU students have a lot of debt. As The Observer reported last month, the average debt of the 2012 graduates who borrowed money totaled $37,640, which was significantly higher than similar institutions, like the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester. In addition, CWRU only meets 43.7 percent of the demonstrated need of its undergraduate students. Seeing these numbers, one may question whether a degree from CWRU is worth the investment. Tellingly, the results of a State Your Case student survey fielded by The Observer found that 38.78 percent of respondents, a majority, thought their education was worth the money only if they used all the university resources available to them. However, a full 36.73 percent thought their education wasn’t worth the money. Yikes.