Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, September 23, 2018

Kerwin discusses Aramark, Campus Plan at town hall

Kerwin discusses Aramark, Campus Plan at town hall

Presiding over his last town hall meeting, Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Abramson listened as students asked questions about Aramark’s relationship with AU, the Campus Plan, the General Education program, off-campus misconduct and faculty evaluations.

Abramson will step down at the end of the year as chairman for Jeff Sine, the current vice chairman, to take over. Abramson will become the first-ever chairman emeritus in honor of his tenure as chairman.

Several students asked questions about AU’s relationship with Aramark, a custodial service, and its workers.

College of Arts and Sciences freshman Ethan Miller presented a petition and letter to President Neil Kerwin asking for a significant increase in the amount of student and worker involvement in the upcoming contract negotiations with Aramark.

Kerwin said he would look over the documents and respond to Miller.

Aramark’s current contract expires in June, and Assistant Vice President for Facilities Development and Real Estate Jorge Abud said he expects it will be extended for a year under the existing terms.

Students at the town hall also asked about Aramark workers’ access to the library.

University Librarian Bill Mayer said he’s working to provide access to the borrowing collection and networks, but “this is not an easy task.”

Mayer said his goal is to ensure the student body has primary access.

“We have to be mindful that decisions we make, we don’t want undue barriers to your access to be a result of that,” he said.

Students also asked about the Campus Plan, a 10-year facilities plan that includes turning the Nebraska Parking Lot into an East Campus with residence halls.

Kerwin said a main issue is the neighbors’ perception of student behavior.

“You are, after all, college students,” said Kerwin, who graduated from AU in 1971. “My behavior was perfect. Your behavior is imperfect.”

Students and administrators in the audience laughed and clapped, but then Kerwin added, “But not as imperfect as it has been made out to be.”

Students also raised questions about AU’s policing of off-campus misconduct, citing recent problems with a house on Upton Street that The Eagle previously reported.

“I can’t think of a worse time to have issues with neighbors with group houses,” Kerwin said, adding that every incident will be “magnified” during upcoming Campus Plan hearings.

Students also asked to discuss the General Education Program. The Faculty Senate recently voted to eliminate the cluster system and tiers, starting fall 2012.

Provost Scott Bass said he would sign off on the proposal.

Students also questioned the effectiveness of the Student Evaluations of Teaching, the Scantron-like forms students fill out at the end of classes.

“It’s very hard for the administration to see where comments are coming from,” one student said.

Kerwin said this is a “very controversial” subject and that the forms exist so AU can learn from student feedback.

sdazio@theeagleonline.com


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