By Jack Poleto
President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski, Provost and Dean Dr. Michael Harvey, and Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Sarah Feyerherm answered student questions in a town hall sponsored by the Student Government Association and moderated by the Director of Student Engagement Antoine Jordan ’12 on Thursday, April 13.
The SGA provided six questions for the administrators to prepare for prior to the event’s start, with the remainder of the time being used for students in attendance to ask pertinent questions.
Beginning with the prepared questions, the panel responded to inquiries about the Washington College Strategic Plan that the higher-ups of each microcosm of WC created together. According to Sosulski, the plan outlines the goals the college wants to achieve between the years of 2023 and 2027, ranging from delivering a transformative student experience, to attracting and retaining faculty, to expanding the recognition of WC. All details pertaining to the Strategic Plan can be found on the College’s website.
“I want to call your attention to two cross-cutting [goals] that are really important…those are fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community and implementing a sustainability plan for the college that is directly tied to the realities of climate change,” President Sosulski said.
The next questions pertained specifically to accessibility on campus and what the administration’s plan was to remedy the infrastructure issues that are presented by WC’s aging campus.
“This has been one of the hottest topics that students have shared with me since I came to campus two years ago,” President Sosulski said. “The biggest challenge is funding because retrofitting older buildings is a costly enterprise.”
According to Sosulski, in a capital improvement request submitted to the office of newly inaugurated Governor of Maryland Wes Moore, WC asked specifically for funds to improve accessibility on campus, with the biggest focus of their ideal improvements being the terrace outside the Clifton M. Miller Library. The figure provided by President Sosulski was $2.25 million, which would be allocated to improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. President Sosulski added later that the terrace project will take place this upcoming summer.
When the panel was asked about plans for environmental sustainability on campus, President Sosulski provided an answer that was geared toward following the results found by the Sustainability Task Force, a body appointed by the Board of Visitors and Governors. According to President Sosulski, this task force process starts with hiring a sustainability coordinator so that the school can be on track with that area of the strategic plan.
According to Dr. Feyerherm, students are clearly advocating for this movement too, with the SGA purchasing water bottle refill stations to cut down on plastic waste and the creation of the SGA’s Secretary of the Environment position.
“[Incoming students] are looking for sustainability in their institutions, so that’s why we think it’s important from a recruitment standpoint,” Vice President of Enrollment Johnnie Johnson said from the audience.
Regarding the Dixon Valve property that was gifted to the College, a building commonly referred to as the YMCA, the administration’s main goal is to transform it into a student center. According to Dr. Feyerherm, it is a site that they are looking to move WC Counseling to and create a wellness center so that students have a safe space.
The next question regarded the panelists’ individual departments and what their biggest goals were.
“Let’s immediately go to the strategic framework…the challenge is to develop precisely what our sustainability approach looks like,” President Sosulski said.
According to Feyerherm, WC is looking to expand their varsity athletics teams to include track and field, along with the previously announced varsity golf team, to attract a new demographic of students.
“Our goal is that every student who comes here finds a place, finds something that engages them,” Dr. Feyerherm said.
According to Dr. Harvey, his goal is to transform students into leaders so they can affect positive change in the world after college.
During the time for audience questions, President Sosulski recapitulated what students can expect to change following this summer. According to President Sosulski, students will notice the library terrace project will be finished, along with the Casey Academic Center renovation, among other projects the administration has taken on.
“I think all the things that we talked about today…as a student, these are some of the biggest things we have been advocating for, so I think the town hall in general went very well,” organizer of the event and former SGA President senior Alex May said.
Elm Archive Photo
Photo Caption: The SGA office is open to students looking to connect with their student government and ask questions.