Semester Grades

With finals approaching,The Observer staff is sick of getting grades. It’s our turn to give them.

Transportation: D

Greenies, which could be a lovely resource as the days get colder, have instead—as always—been unreliable and far from useful for all but the luckiest students; stories of them driving straight past students waiting at bus stops have been numerous. Students hoping to limit damage to their schedules by using the tracking system are out of luck as well, as it doesn’t actually work—or the drivers don’t turn it on. Safe Ride, too, is unreliable; the service can take up to an hour to show up, assuming it ever does. Case Western Reserve University simply needs to invest in more vehicles. The only thing saving campus transportation from an F is that at least campus administrators recognize that there are issues and are looking at ways to remedy them, according to university President Barbara R. Snyder. We know it’s a tough area to fix, but for the safety and general well-being of students, it needs to improve.

Security: C

The usually empty-seeming security tower serves as a clearly visible reason for campus security’s less-than-valedictorian grade standing. This is hardly bolstered by the broken blue lights dotting our campus streets. We’re not necessarily unsafe, but new initiatives implemented haven’t really hit the mark. Increased patrols and fixing of systems we already have in place would have been a better response to crime on campus than the construction of something that makes northside feel like a prison grounds.

On the positive side, though, there has been a stronger presence of the CWRU Police Department, especially at night on Mather quad—a necessary measure, given the students choosing to walk back to their dorms rather than wait a few eternities for a Safe Ride (see above). The police department’s outreach has helped their grade out as well; their efforts to engage the community are more than appreciated.

Campus response to #webelonghere movement: B-

Student responses to the needed #webelonghere movement have ranged from fervent support—mainly the movement’s members themselves—to tepid interest—the majority of students. There have also been a few whose reactions were more offensive and mocking—those now infamous Yik Yak posters. Throughout the movement, university administration has been encouraging, but not particularly active. For the most part, its official statements have been on the right side, but in terms of action, they have largely stayed out of it. It’s great to have students take the lead, but we’d like it to have needed a little less prodding.

TVUC first impressions: C

If the Tinkham Veale University Center has done one thing right, it has been providing a space for big-name visitors, like actress Laverne Cox, to address the campus community. Before its construction, the run-down Ford Auditorium was the biggest space we had, hardly a draw for a visiting speaker.

However, such events could just as easily take place in an event space in a legitimate student center (remember it’s a university center), so that highlight can’t serve to excuse the severely underwhelming rest of the building. It’s simply not functional: The spaces given to student organizations are small (and that given to the LGBT Center has two glass walls, a clear flaw in something that is supposed to function as a safe, confidential space), and study tables are few and uncomfortable. For student groups hoping to use the building’s spaces, there are originally prohibitively high fees. While these are still in place, at least now the cost burden has been shifted to Undergraduate Student Government, rather than falling directly on the concerned organizations. While it has its purpose, surely that $50 million could have been better spent.

Bon Appétit expansion: F

Bon Appétit, many students’ least favorite on-campus monopoly, has expanded its influence this semester with several restaurants in the new TVUC and absorbing control of both the Rough Rider Room and The Spot. While options in the RRR and The Spot have increased, so have their prices. It has also claimed exclusive catering rights to the aforementioned spots, so student groups holding meetings there are forbidden from bringing in food from a non-Bon Appétit source. Bon Appétit isn’t an evil corporation; they pay their employees a living wage, and their focus on sustainability is a great initiative, but students have been hurt by their expensive food options. Twelve dollars for a half-cooked Melt sandwich is a bit much.

In addition, while making certain TVUC restaurants meal swipe-eligible seems like good progress, that came without an increase in the two meal swipes per week that students are permitted to use outside of dining halls, keeping their usefulness as anything but the occasional last-minute bite to eat severely limited. It’s also a little too little too late. They get to seem like the good guys by making the change, but why wasn’t this the policy in the first place? If it stays for the entirety of next semester, we’d give them higher marks.

Campus response to tragedies: A-

It has been a tough semester for the campus community. First was the plane crash that killed four CWRU students. University response to that was by all accounts excellent; a few memorials were held, and the administration made support and condolences readily available. We have never seen the community come together more than what we went through the following few weeks.

What prevents us for not giving a full A is that on the heels of the loss of the four students, there was another death that university officials missed. University response to the death of facilities worker Chris Malloy was late and little; most students found out through Yik Yak or before the university released an official statement. Members of the university marketing and communications office were immediately apologetic, extremely regretful for having failed to report this to the community sooner, but nonetheless it stands as a shortcoming in this semester’s administrative response to campus tragedies.