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APRIL 2, 2011

OPINION

A Letter From the Committee on Student Life

(From, Recommendations From the Committee on Student Life, Page 6)

2. Establish or support a student-run coffee shop on campus. According to the survey, students favor the establishment of an alternative, student-run coffee shop on campus 77 to 15 (84% in favor). Sixty-three students (71% of the 89 who responded to the question) also noted that they find the Coffee Shop unavailable when they need it most, usually between 8 PM and 2 AM. Many of the same students, and others, expressed a desire to see healthier dining options available on campus.

might also help reduce noise and increase students’ sense of privacy in their own private rooms. We also recommend that simple appliances be provided in each of these dorm common rooms— specifically, a small refrigerator, a microwave, a coffee pot, an electric kettle, washing basins, a dish-drying rack, and basic cleaning supplies. These, like the campus general store, would better enable students’ to prepare light meals and snacks for themselves in the comfort of their own “homes.” We received many thoughtful suggestions about how such items could be kept clean and in good condition.

Some Data from the Student Life Surveys Undergrad Lounge: 66-71% in favor Student Coffee Shop: 84% in favor Campus General Store: 73% in favor Dorm Common Rooms: 88% in favor In light of these facts, we believe a student-run coffee shop serving light, healthy foods and quality coffee, especially late into the night, would fill a welcomed and needed role on campus. We also recommend that such an establishment be granted a home in the undergraduate lounge, giving students of all kinds an incentive to visit the space, and to respect its up-keep. Additionally, we foresee a studentrun coffee shop installed in the lounge inspiring further undergraduate creativity and initiative there. Overall, we believe that the student-run coffee shop and the lounge would together provide undergraduates a common space in which they feel a sense of sanctuary, pride, creative freedom, and responsibility. 3. Open a campus general store. According to the survey, 64 students (73% of the 88 who responded to the question) believe they would purchase items at a campus general store between one and three times a week, if it were established. Staple items such as milk, cereal, yogurt, eggs, and certain kinds of instant soups were the clear favorites when students were asked what items they would like to see a campus general store offer. If such a service were permanently established on campus—for instance, in the Coffee Shop or the Bookstore, or elsewhere in Pe t e r s o n — we believe it would make residential life at St. John’s much easier and more comfortable for students who wish to cook for themselves, especially for those who do not have cars. 4. Establish, furnish, and equip common rooms in all campus dorms. On the survey, 23 of 73 students (32%) reported that they do not feel a sense of community in their dorms, and 74 of 84 (88%) responded that they think common rooms should be established in all dorms. We believe that establishing and furnishing a common space in one unoccupied room in each dorm would decrease the sense of isolation that many students appear to feel on campus. Additionally, we believe it would encourage both organized and spontaneous dorm events, fostering a greater sense of camaraderie even in those dorms that are already closeknit. The availability of such spaces

The most common and promising, we think, was the idea that dorm residents could organize a way to maintain these items themselves, under the guidance and oversight of their RAs. The CSL hopes to discuss this idea further this semester, with the current RAs and the Director of Residential Life, Matt Johnston. 5. Maintain a shuttle service into town, and consider expanding it to suit students’ needs and interests. The CSL is currently working with the Assistant Dean and the Director of Residential Life to develop a shuttle service between the College and the town, something for which many students are indicating a desire or need in the incoming results of our second survey. Students’ input is helping us determine when and where these shuttles will run, and how frequently they will be available. We believe they will be an important resource for many in the campus community, especially those without their own cars, and those who wish to enjoy more of a nightlife while at St. John’s. We would like to thank Mr. Walpin and Mr. Johnston for all their hard work to secure such an important service for students. We hope their efforts find continued support in the coming years. These are our five top recommendations to improve the current condition of campus life at St. John’s. We worked hard to formulate them based on the greatest areas of interest and need students indicated on their campus life surveys. The full results of both surveys, and the complete version of our recommendations to the Campus Planning Committee, are available to all members of the campus community; just email us at StJohnsCSL@gmail.com to request copies. If you would like to help turn any of these recommendations into realities on campus, if you’re curious about our response to other issues raised on the surveys, or if you have ideas of your own, please attend one of our meetings. Thank you again to the many people—students, staff, and faculty—who are helping us improve student life at the College.

We believe that establishing and furnishing a common space in one unoccupied room in each dorm would decrease the sense of isolation that many students appear to feel on campus.

Gloria McGillen, Peter LaMear, and Aparna Ravilochan are Seniors at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. The Committee on Student Life can be reached at StJohnsCSL@gmail.com

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Where is the Love?

By Felicia Thompson

The Aramark staff, headed by Rex McCreary, are kind, personable, and professional. I should know. With numerous food allergies, I was concerned that my choices would be limited. That more often than not, there would be nothing to eat that did not contain wheat, corn, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes), olives, or chicken products. I was prepared for a life without desserts. When I came as a Prospie, I asked my tour guide what the food was like. “It’s okay. I mean, they’re feeding over 400 people everyday so, you know, they do alright.” Then we walked into the dining hall. As my guide pointed out the salad bar, the coffee and tea station, the dessert table with pies, brownies and cookies, I was distracted by a sign on the dessert station that said simply “vegan.” Vegan? Desserts? And was that the scent of garlic and butter, floating like a butterfly over the smell of pizza and yeasty bread? At the stirfry station, there was a mind boggling selection that included bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, onions, chopped garlic, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, celery, spinach, tri-colored peppers, and snap pea pods. “It’s okay,” was ringing in my ears. The choices continued: a hot bar with home-style items like meatloaf, panko-crusted talapia, mac and cheese, lasagna, beef stroganoff. Stuff your mom and grandma made. The soup station had cream of broccoli and posole, with bread baked just before the doors opened for dinner. The vegan station had spinach noodles tossed in basil pesto and a spring-mix green salad with vinaigrette. Once the staff was aware of my allergies, Carlos would caution me, “you can’t have the beef, Felicia; there’s tomato sauce in there”. Or Marcie would say, “No, no, not the soup; it has chicken.” Often it was hard to tell, and I’d ask again. Not once was the staff too busy to go back in the kitchen to check, or to walk around pointing out the items I could eat. You never hear Aramark complain when students leave the dining room

without clearing their dishes, or spill coffee and tea on the floor and leave. No one grumbles under their breath when some yahoo squeezes the honey bottle too hard, which pops the top off and gushes honey all over the container and the counter, then puts the top back on without cleaning up any of it. The staff just cleans it up, refills the bottle, and goes back to work. The same goes for the coffee shop. Many students would rather complain about the selection, the repetition, that the food is heavy on the mexican or southwest type of cuisine. They don’t take the time to fill out a comment card or talk to Rex, or mention to the chef behind the hot line. If they did, they would know that they listen, and they respond. I’ve heard students complain in a voice intended to be overheard, when Aramark staff is in close proximity. No one thanks them for coming in at 5 a.m. every morning to do all it takes to be prepared for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No one says good night when they’re leaving, after 12 to 14 hours on their feet. No one asks them how they’re doing, or about their families. They have lives outside of the dining hall, but you’d never know they exist outside of what they can do to mess up your meal, according to the ungrateful grumbling I often hear between conversations about last nights seminar. It is obvious to me that Aramark cares about what they do. So I comment when something on the menu is flavorful and delicious. I comment when the soup is burnt, or the when the the oil carafe is empty at the salad bar. I ask them how they’re doing, and I thank them. The next time you’re in the dining hall, look over all the choices, the variety, and the freshness of it all. Think about the staff that prepares it, every day, without fail. Consider taking a minute to show a little appreciation, a little courtesy - maybe even some compassion. Next time, at the very least, say thank you. Felicia Thompson is a Sophomore at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. She can be reached at felicia.thompson@sjcsf.edu

Financial Aid Continues to Match Tuition Rise

By Alicia Dondo

I recently attended the Board of Visitors and Governors’ meeting held in Santa Fe from the 16th to the 18th of February. The future of the College looks better than expected. In other words, the College is not in dire straits and the Administration has strategic plans in place to combat both the enrollment and financial problems. Regarding the financial status of the College, including both campuses, stabilization is needed and reversing the decline in enrollment is fundamental to achieving our financial stabilization. The College accepted the recommendations of Marts and Lundy, a consultancy firm hired to assess the current status of the College. One of the recommendations was to focus on a two-year effort to increase the foundation of the budget through gift commitments. This would require appealing to donors to give money by showing them exactly where the money would be used. For example, there were suggestions that specifying that the money would go directly to financial aid would connect the donors more to the students they are helping and make them more willing to give money. Another suggestion I particularly found compelling was to appeal to alumni through their classes, so that a particular class can donate money for a scholarship to fund a summer internship. Despite these recommendations to raise more money, the College is not doing too badly, as 30% of our endowment actually comes from philanthropy. All the new initiatives to increase our budget through philanthropy will be in full operation by the beginning of the next fiscal year. Regarding financial aid, though the financial condition of the College has not changed from previous, more prosperous years, our

reserves are depleting. More students need financial aid as the tuition keeps increasing. However, the College is committed to meet every student’s financial need. The Board voted to approve the proposal to increase tuition by 3% (last year they increased it by 3.5%). The motion passed by an overwhelming majority. One person voted against the proposal. As a result, tuition for the next academic year is $44,554. On the enrollment front, enrollment is still down. A factor that has influenced this trend is the decline in visits of prospective students. The recent initiative that funded fly-in visits will not have a significant impact in making up the deficit in visits. 30% of visitors end up enrolling on average, so it is important to increase the number of visits. Moreover, there has not been an increase in the number of applicants who live in New Mexico despite the $7,500 grant initiative (under this policy, any New Mexican resident that enrolls automatically receives $7,500 as a grant). On the more positive side, the number of applicants from California has risen by 30% mainly due to the fact that two admissions counselors were assigned to focus on this state. We should also see an increase in the number of Texans who apply to the Santa Fe campus. Concerning Buildings and Grounds, the dormitories are emptier in comparison to previous years, but the good news is that the Winiarski Center will be done in time for the next academic year . Anybody who seeks to learn more about the meetings, can contact me for any information. Alicia Dondo is a Junior at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. She can be reached at alicia. dondo@sjcsf.edu

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