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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Students Help Students Stay in CPCS

For the first time since last March, there’s an atmosphere of hope among students of the College of Public and Community Service.

The continued short-staffing in CPCS advising since last semester (despite written promises of a forthcoming plan to replace transferred and ‘re-purposed’ personnel) led a group of students to build on the previously existing, student-led Student Resource Center.

The team worked all summer to plan and execute two student-led advising workshops during the last two weeks of August, earning competencies along the way for their work.

“Our goal was retention. We believe in this program, this mode of learning, and this College. Helping one another here is the first step is using what we learn at CPCS in the outside world,” says Dennis Begany, a second year CPCS student studying Community Planning and Co-chair of the Student Resource Center (SRC.)

Daniel Harrison, a third year student in Human Services/Non-profit Mgmt. adds “prior to this project, none of us had advisors, nor had anyone since last March been assigned to help us complete our learning plans, and hence degrees. But this summer we achieved a true partnership with faculty and the support staff we have left.”

I attended both workshops, personally observing interactions between students, staff, and faculty. One student approached me in confidence to say that “before today I was gone. I felt like the University had sold me a bill of goods and pulled the rug right out from under me. But now I’m staying.” Two others echoed her feeling, saying that they’d been “lost before,” but now “knew how to finish.”

“No one walks out of this room without getting the answers they need,” said Human Services major Lynne Marshall as she and fellow CPCS student and volunteer Alison Robles matched students with faculty and staff.

Each of the more than thirty students who attended the workshops was asked to fill out a questionnaire gauging how prepared they felt as well as the level of understanding he/she had about finishing their CPCS programs. Two-thirds reported a severe lack of understanding prior to the workshop. Many had been scared that they’d not be able to finish what they started.

Comments regarding the event ranged from “the SRC should be institutionalized” to “Can you get someone to fix CPCS printer in the 3rd Floor computer lab?”

The part of the questionnaire that gauged whether students felt they’ve moved ahead after their session showed 100% affirmative responses.

When asked about how difficult it was for the team of seven students, many of whom also have full or part-time jobs, to put this together Dennis replied “It’s not rocket science to do this, if you care; it’s just getting the people with the questions in the room with the people who have the answers.”

“We nearly doubled our goal for registrants,” says Harrison. “We succeeded beyond our expectations,” Begany adds, smiling. “We all just hope that someone will pick things up from here.”

Of course, there were snags along the way: a coincidental lack of office supplies to make photocopies when the time came to promote the enrollment workshop.

Other, darker issues include faculty members who remain knowledgable about advising and registration, but were not able to participate in the workshops, nor even speak openly for “memory of past and fear of future retaliation.”

On another occasion, the College’s administration sent out a memo which stated that a number of classes, including the HICCUP program which connects CPCS students as mentors with youth from neighboring Harbor Point, would be cancelled the day immediately prior to the SRC’s first enrollment workshop, due to–ironically–low enrollment in those classes.

The CPCS administration responded to neither phone call nor in-person request for a meeting to allow an update from the other side of the story; however the administration has since agreed to wait until the start of classes to make any cancellations.

What’s next for the students of the SRC? Now that the year has started, they’re going to finish the competencies for which they’ve worked so hard. But something tells me we haven’t heard the last from the Student Resource Center.

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Here, facts end and personal statement begins. If you think my words will offend, please stop reading and skip on to our Opinion section.

Continued on p. 14

I love this University and can’t imagine going anywhere else. I find the opportunities to get involved in community as well as student life to be as good or better here than the private (and much better funded) University where I started my college career over ten years ago. As both a CPCS and CLA student, it’s hard for me to reconcile the chasm between the experiences of the University that I’ve had over the past eight months.

One could not be better, the other has been a long and difficult road, without a visible end. But nothing gives me more hope, nothing thrills me more than to see the values of the CPCS classroom: passion and commitment to social justice and to one another’s well-being, put into action, and embodied by my peers. Such good thing are not meant just for a College of Public and Community Service, or an urban University’s urban mission, they are the things that make us more human.