The students who took the Writing for the Media class at University of Hartford, Fall 2021 completed this post for their final assignments of the semester.
We sought to bring awareness to problems directly affecting students who live on campus and those who commute, such as parking and residential life. We surveyed at least 70 students in an effort to learn what their concerns are. Then, we asked two administrators to address these concerns:
Michael Kaselouskas, Chief of Department of Public Safety
Aaron Isaacs, Dean of Students
Below, you will find a survey for undergraduate and graduate university students that we encourage you to take, but first here is a press release about the administration’s responses to the students’ concerns, and our reflections on how they addressed them.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: email@example.com 860-200-8711
Campus Parking Problems and Inadequate Residential Life Conditions Neglected at UHart
WEST HARTFORD, CONN., Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 — After years of complaints about excessive parking violations, inconsistent enforcement of policies and deteriorating conditions in the dormitories, students at the University of Hartford are sounding-off and asking for answers and improvements.
Students in the Writing for the Media class surveyed dozens of students, who reported a litany of unresolved problems and a worrisome lack of response from the university administration. Problems include water so dirty it was brown, longstanding mold, corroded and unfiltered ventilation systems, lack of sufficient heating and air conditioning and outrageously high prices for the privilege of parking, plus excessive fees for violations of the haphazardly enforced parking policy.
For example, one student from the class of 2022 reported getting 15 tickets when his car battery died despite reporting the breakdown to Public Safety. Then, on top of that, the student’s vehicle was banned from parking on campus.
Another student complained about an infestation of yellow jackets in their dorm, and it took more than a month for facilities personnel to address this threat to their living conditions.
The Writing for the Media class presented these and other findings with the survey results to Chief Michael Kaselouski, who goes by “Kaz,” and also to Dean Aaron Isaacs.
These two gentlemen were invited separately to address the class, and their presentations and response could not have been more different.
Kaz arrived 30-minutes late, left several but not all of the students feeling as if they were being talked down to and invalidated for their youth, and that their experiences were dismissable. He did explain that the campus has plenty of spaces since the university is operating at only 80% capacity and students should understand that the parking fees have not increased in several years. Kaz said that students could solve their own parking issues by parking at a distance and disregarded the inconvenience of doing so. Despite being chief of the department, he was unclear who actually dictates the policies and at one point said he had no power to change them, and at another point contradicted that statement and indicated he was in fact able to make changes.
Kaz did suggest any student with a parking violation or other complaint related to parking can always email him. “I’m willing to help students and go to bat for you, you just need to be reasonable. I have a daughter myself, so I understand.”
But Kaz also made no promises based on his own personal experiences as the father of a college student. While the students paid polite attention and accepted his lateness due to his responsibilities, it was a disappointing experience for most of the class because they did not have any expectation the issues were being heard, understood and would be addressed.
In contrast to Kaz, Dean Isaacs arrived early, appeared eager to listen to student complaints and encouraged the class to bring him those and other problems. “I love when students do surveys and talk to the student body,” said Dean Isaacs. “I love to see results because we are able to see what students think and help with the things we do. Results help produce results.”
The dean explained the history of the construction of Regents and other dorms, talked about how the budgeting process works and that the priority for the university is to attract more students to attend UHart so that their tuition will fund future development and improvements across the campus.
“There is a fund and we have to choose what would be more beneficial for the entire UHart community,” Isaacs told the students. “If we build something that will not have as big of an impact, we lose money. But those projects are not ignored, it’s deciding where money goes.”
However, as with Kaz, there was no expectation based on the dean’s responses that changes would come anytime soon.
RAEGAN BYRD, BRADLEY CASO, LOGAN COLE, EMMANUEL CONROY, ANASTASIA DAVIDSON, DAWNESHA DWYER-YOUNG, AUNA FOSTER, TRACY MURRAY, KRISTEN VALENTINE, MATTHEW WOJTOWICZ AND PROF. DAWN ENNIS
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org 860-200-8711
STATEMENT BY UNIVERSITY PROVOST FREDERICK SWEITZER:
Before meeting with the administrators, the class received the following statement from the university provost:
Dear Professor Ennis and Members of the Class,
I understand that you are looking at three issues with regard to our campus: parking on campus; conditions in specific dormitories; and funding for clubs and associations. As the Provost, my job is to focus on the academic side of things so I am afraid I don’t have any in-depth understanding of these issues, although I do know that they are important to many students. However, I do want to applaud your efforts. One of the things I think about as Provost are the habits of mind that we are helping to foster in all our students, regardless of major. Critical thinking and information literacy are high on my list and you are exercising both. In addition, I am always pleased when I see students wanting to take an active and constructive role in making our community a better place. Sorry not to be of more specific help and I wish you the best in your endeavor. I look forward to hearing about what you find in your surveys and interviews.
Here is the survey created by students, which has already been taken by 70 students across the university. We encourage you to click the link to the Google form and respond to as many of the 25 questions as you wish, with the full assurance that your identity will not be disclosed to anyone at the university, neither your classmates or the administration. Not even Prof. Ennis will be able to see who you are. Thank you!