Administration addresses student concerns at town hall meeting
“Is there any way we can get a salad bar?”
“Can the library extend its hours to mimic main campus library hours?”
“Can Starbucks be open the same duration of the library?”
These and other questions and suggestions were addressed at the Fall 2010 Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom. The event was hosted by the John Marshall Bar Association (JMBA) and included panel members Dean Robert Jerry, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs William Page, Associate Dean for Student Affairs Rachel Inman and Associate Dean for Administrative and Fiscal Affairs Debra Staats.
The hour-long event had over 100 attendees and touched on topics such as career development, academics, facilities and student services. Each dean answered questions and addressed suggestions relating to their area.
The meeting first focused on questions and suggestions collected by JMBA from students. These included requests to add a new microwave and furniture in the cafeteria, painting and/or pressure washing the outside of the building during an academic break and adding toilet seat covers and individual trashcans in the women’s restroom stalls.
“Some things are obvious. We just need someone to say them out loud,” Staats said.
In response to concerns related to the Center for Career Development, Jerry said, “We recognize [career development] as an area where we need to perform better – in the delivery of student services. Making improvements in that area is a top priority.”
Inman has stepped in as interim director of the Center for Career Development following the resignation of former Assistant Dean for Career Development Linda Calvert-Hanson. Jerry said there will be a national search to bring in a new director, and that the school will continue to work to make available more small-firm options for employment, disseminate information more effectively, and get more recruiters to interview UF Law students.
“We will do a better job providing all these services,” Jerry said.
Jerry also discussed the power of the Gator Nation network, how alumni have helped with the placement of prior graduates, and the school’s plan to encourage alumni to hire Gator grads.
Student suggestions and concerns voiced at the town hall meeting included:
- Keeping the law library open until 1 a.m. like the main campus libraries
- Offering extended library hours two weeks earlier than usually offered for students who have papers due before finals
- Making the reading room limited to only law students
- Having Starbucks use the same operating hours as the library
- Adding food options such as a salad bar, Subway and Boar’s Head
- Inviting food vendors such as Chick-fil-A to sell on campus at designated times
- Offering the law calendar in a smart-phone friendly format
- Providing more lighting and/or security on the campus at night, especially around the Florida Law Review office entrance
After the administration addressed suggestions, the town hall meeting closed with a question and answer session. Some questions included: “why is there no ‘Sexuality in Law’ class?”, “will there be a certificate in criminal law available?” and “why don’t we have more clinic options?”
Page’s answers included that there was a “Sexuality in Law” class previously offered during the summer, but the professor who teaches that class hasn’t been able to teach it the past couple years due to course loads. However, they are looking to offer the class in the spring or fall semester. Page also said that a certificate in criminal law is not yet available, but that the school is investigating the addition of an entrepreneurship clinic.
In answer to a question regarding the grading curve, Page said the current class standing system communicates the quality and competitiveness of the student body.
After receiving answers to their questions and voicing their opinions, students were offered free lunch provided by JMBA. Joe Joyce, president of JMBA, thought the meeting was successful.
“It was a really honest dialogue,” Joyce said. “There has been positive change from town hall meetings in the past, and this is an important part of what JMBA does: advocate for student issues. JMBA wants to provide students with access to the administration and advocate on their behalf issues that the students care about and believe in.”
“It’s about effecting positive change,” he said.