In the most recent volume of The Cogswell Chronicle, the article “Disregarded” by student Joseph Fortuno addressed student perspectives ON three major changes on campus: loss of 24-hour access to campus, limited parking, and the relocation of the Whisper Room. DAA student Cheyenne Mikailli decided to continue the conversation and get the attention of the school, something many believe was needed for students to see an actual change at Cogswell. On Thursday, October 18, Mikailli organized a school-wide town hall meeting for students to express their concerns. The completely student-run meeting was held in Room 111. It was attended by many students, with some having to sit on the floor, lining up along every wall, or even gathering outside the door.
The purpose of the meeting was to give students a chance to voice their opinions on not only the recent changes on campus, but also many other issues. Some of these included trouble with the housing department, financial aid, and a general lack of space for students to complete work. “I decided to organize this meeting because I saw a real need for it,” Mikailli says. “Over the course of the years I’ve spent at this school there’s always been an undertone of students being dissatisfied.”
Most recently, tension between the students and the school has increased because of decisions that work against the students’ convenience, such as reserving parking spots for administration and limiting campus hours. “I don’t want to drag this out into some sort of messy fight,” says Mikailli. “That being said, I do feel an obligation to see this through and ensure the students are getting meaningful solutions to the problems they have brought to the table.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Mikailli presented a list of student complaints and possible fallacies that the school may have used when when addressing the complaints. Students then voiced their concerns, and each was given the chance to speak about a part of Cogswell that they consider unsatisfactory. By far, the most common complaint was the loss of 24-hour access and how it prevents students from completing work. Aside from that, other common issues included the limited number of computers and programs available, the sub-par conditions of the new Whisper Room, and a general lack of student space. After students were given the opportunity to voice their concerns, Cogswell Chief Academic Officer (President & CAO) Brian Shepard was given the last part of the meeting to address some of the issues introduced by students.
The meeting left many students with mixed feelings as to whether or not it was effective.
Student Avery Weibel tells us that he feels the same in terms of how he views the school before and after the meeting. Many agree that there will need to be more action in the future to convince the school that students need more than the extended weekend hours that were promised at the meeting. “Before the meeting, the school felt increasingly disorganized and unresponsive,” says DAA student Rafael Joseph, “and I’m not sure if all that has changed just by this meeting alone.”
Other students weren’t happy with the school’s response to some of the issues. “I feel just as upset, and that nothing was explained, just counter-argued,” says DAA student Mercedes James. ”I don't feel like anything was really achieved,” mentions student Campbell Winslow. Even though the school has since extended its hours to 1:00 AM on weekends instead of 9:00 PM, 24-hour access still hasn’t been returned, and many believe that there is no hope of seeing it back. “It feels like you took away my cheeseburger, and gave me back the cheese,” said Winslow.
The meeting did spark hope and optimism for the future to some. “I was very happy with the turnout,” says CS student Ben Loesch. “Seeing so many of us at the meeting gave me hope that we might be able to see real change.” While it seems the meeting by itself may not have incited much change, students have shared that it may provide future opportunities for more students to speak up about how they feel. “I feel this meeting will give way to more like it that will allow students to help shape the school into what it should be,” says GDE student Connor Anderson.
Fortunately, Cogswell administration has been vocal about being open to listening to students’ concerns. “I think communication is a problem in pretty much every organization,” CAO, Brian Shepard tells The Chronicle, “my hope is that today’s meeting will be a starting point to productive conversation.” At the meeting, Shepard’s main point was that students need to communicate their concerns to the school before anything else. He says that the meeting itself was the first time he had heard of many of the issues introduced. “I always enjoy opportunities to hear what’s on people’s minds,” he tells us. Shepard makes it clear that he is always open to conversations with students about the school and what could be done to improve it.
In the end, Shepard only had about ten minutes to address the complaints and concerns of the students, which may have contributed to some students feeling like the meeting didn’t accomplish much. Fortunately, Mikailli plans to organize another meeting in the future so more issues can be addressed and, hopefully, solved. “The lack of time to see the informal Q&A with Brian, to an end on the spot, probably means a lot of people left the meeting with a feeling of tension,” says Mikailli, “but I think there are steps in place already to help resolve that, and we can hope to see meaningful progress over the next few weeks,” he concludes.
A similar event, “Pizza with the President,” is scheduled for November 27. Students will be able converse with Dr. Shepard and enjoy pizza. The event will be held at 12:30PM in Room 111.
SUMMARY OF MEETING:
24-Hour Access to Cogswell College’s campus
Students expressed that the decision to halt 24-hour access has limited their potential work hours.
CAO Brian Shepard says that 24/7 access is an issue for the college because it is too expensive, was met with low attendance, and brought up concerns about liability and student safety.
Hours have been extended to 1:00AM on weekends.
Students have concerns about the increase in housing fees this semester and the apartments being in poor condition when students move in.
Dr. Shepard says that the increase reflects increasing inflation in San Jose, which causes housing prices to rise, something Cogswell has no control over.
Lack of Facilities and Resources
With the Whisper Room relocating to a smaller space to make room for CEO Charles Restivo’s office, many students feel that Cogswell has a lack of facilities and space for students to work.
Students also feel that there is a lack of computers, tools, and programs that are specific to classes and departments.
eSports and Scholarships
A student brought up a concern about promises regarding scholarships in the eSports program that are not fulfilled.
Information about scholarships have been updated on the website.