President Matthew Wilson invited students to voice their questions and concerns about campus changes in a town hall meeting on Jan. 29.
While questions ranged from getting a fingerprinting service on campus to fixing a leaky ceiling, many students questioned the funding and logistics of Wilson’s recent initiatives, such as Gold Fridays and the esports program. Some said that they were unsatisfied with the answers they received.
One student who participated in the meeting was sophomore biochemistry and molecular biology major Alex Moody. Moody raised concerns that “Five Star Fridays,” a four-day-week initiative Wilson began at the University of Akron, had been done away with since Wilson stepped down as Akron’s president. Wilson said that the program was very successful but had been partially rolled back due to the change in administration.
“When you have a leader that steps away, oftentimes things change,” Wilson said. “Some departments want to have Fridays, that’s fine. But most of the campus at Akron right now, they’re still on a four-day schedule, and they’ll continue to be because that’s what the students want.”
Likewise, Wilson said that not all departments at Missouri Western were necessarily required to stop holding Friday classes as a result of his Gold Fridays four-day-week initiative.
“That’s up to the professors that are actually doing this,” Wilson said. “That’s up to your department; there’s not a hundred percent moratorium that says this is the way the schedule has to be.”
One department Wilson said might be an exception to the rule was the art department due to its longer classes. However, digital animation major Atasha Owens said that a reduction in Friday classes was already impacting her schedule.
“I’m having a lot of difficulties with trying to figure out a schedule for my next semester that doesn’t have any time conflicts, which I already had issues with before,” Owens said. “Now it’s just blown up because of how everything’s been squished together.”
In addition to concerns about scheduling, several students questioned whether new initiatives would be paid for by increasing fees or tuition.
Moody asked Wilson how he intended to pay for the esports program when considering Missouri Western’s $3.1 million deficit. According to Wilson, the esports initiative would pay for itself with increases to enrollment and outside financial contributions.
“At the end of the day, this is something that’s not going to cost money at the bottom line because it will bring in enough donations, enough students,” Wilson said.
According to Moody, many questions at the town hall were not completely addressed.
“The students just aren't being told what’s going on, whether that be we’re not being told until a week before things are signed and started, we’re not being told until after they’re signed and started,” Moody said. “There’s just so much that isn't being addressed towards us, and we’re the ones that are paying for it.”
Several recent changes at Missouri Western have involved moving or restructuring existing departments, such as the Career Development Center and the International Center. Junior special education major Michala Pulliam asked whether there were plans to move the education department from Murphy Hall to Wilson Hall.
While Wilson did not officially confirm the move, he said that he is currently in talks with local school districts about bringing an early childhood center onto campus. The early childhood center would serve as lab space for education majors and would require renovations to Wilson Hall.
“We’re not ready to announce it yet, but we’re pretty close,” Wilson said. “I’ve got over a million dollars secured, potentially, to try and do some updates.”
Other topics discussed included the uncertain future of the Chiefs Training Camp, finding funding for accessibility issues on campus and the creation of a police station and fire department as part of a leasing agreement with the city of St. Joseph. Wilson said he planned to hold more town hall meetings in the future in an effort to be transparent with students.
For more information about recent initiatives or to provide feedback, visit https://www.missouriwestern.edu/wilson/.