After cancelling a peaceful assembly at a Board of Governors’ meeting, the President and Vice President of the Non-Traditional Student Association met with Missouri Western administrators to voice their concerns.
Chair of the Board of Governors Kylee Strough and Western President Robert Vartabedian, decided to meet with the NTSA President Berry Hersh and Vice President Amanda Daly after hearing about the planned demonstration.
Hersh said the demonstration was planned to get the attention of the Board of Governors and inform them of the fears Hersh and other non-traditional students have for the future of the NTSA after Esther Perález, vice president of student affairs, reorganized the leadership of the Non-Traditional Student Services Center.
“I guess it worked,” Hersh said. “We just wanted to show our support for Ellen [Kisker] and let them know we’re concerned about the future.”
Among these concerns were worries about how much time Taye Triggs, Kisker’s replacement following her retirement, would have to dedicate to the non-traditional students. Hersh was told that Triggs would only be able to work with the non-traditional students maybe once every two weeks.
“You can only say there’s a plan in place for so long,” Hersh said. “Because we know how busy Dr. Perález is, we know how busy Taye Triggs is…I’m afraid when Ellen leaves tomorrow, there’s going to be enormous holes.”
Among other concerns was the financial situation that the re-alignment of student affairs could leave some non-traditional students in. Last year, Kisker was able to raise $150,000 in scholarships for non-traditional students.
“Those are the things people are worried about losing when [Kisker] is gone,” Daly said. “Ellen has talked so many people out of quitting school. We need that guidance there, we need that person there that will say ‘You can do this.’”
Hersh said that the realignment of student affairs was to help integrate student organizations together, but that he felt attention was being shifted from non-traditional students to the Greek organizations.
“It’s difficult to hear that they want us integrated, especially me, that they want to integrate non-trads into campus life, when I’m running for homecoming king,” Hersh said. “How much more involved do you want me to be?”
Strough felt that Trigg’s new position was being created to make some of the same improvements to the Greek organizations that Kisker was able to make with the Non-Traditional Student Services Center. Currently, non-traditional students out-number the amount of Greek students, roughly 280 to 1200, according to Hersh.
Strough said that the next step is to establish communications between Paralez and the non-traditional student center so they can convey their concerns directly to the student affairs office.
Vartabedian said that if the situation doesn’t work out, the university is “willing to return to the status-quo.”
“A lot of what we do in academia is trial and error,” Vartabedian said. “If we sensed at all that non-trads were suffering as a result to this more integrated treatment of all students…we certainly would change things.”