Monday, May 8, 2017
Ninth Annual: The Year in Review - 2016-2017
Another academic year is in the rear-view mirror, and as is tradition, I take a look back at the year that was. Rules: I try to think broadly, beyond the Student Life perspective. I have certainly missed some things and invite readers to post on those things in the comment section.
I want to also note that I review the Trinitonian and my own posts to prepare this piece. The Trinitonian does a fantastic job of reporting a LOT all year long.Unfortunately they are having issues with their Web page, but you can see PDFs of various issues on-line.
I rank these mostly by impact and long-term/present-day scope and affect on others.
1. The Trump Presidency
This may be the first time a national story has hit the top spot on the list. While it isn't exclusively or necessarily local, the impact of the election on campus was unmistakable. The election night viewing party reportedly turned contentious when the surprise result was unfolding. The following day, students, faculty, and staff packed the Tehuacana Room to process what transpired. Emotions ran high and campus conservatives were both emboldened and felt under attack. Many left-leaning students felt their identities were invalidated. For an example of direct impact, the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was slated to shift some campus staff salaries was over-turned and plans for restructured salaries were immediately scrapped.
2a. City Vista
That the City Vista apartment building across the street became available at the same time the University was discussing actually constructing apartments was certainly fortuitous. That we had the right to first refusal, and exercised our option on the units was ground-breaking (without breaking any ground!). This is a huge win for students as we finally can compete with other campuses with apartments. This makes the residency requirement more palatable and creates more wiggle-room for singles on main campus.
2b. Oblate Property
We don't know what it's for, what we will do with it, or if it is use-able because of endangered spiders, but we bought the property off of Shook, across from Thomas as a long-term hedge. This is how the country ended up with Alaska. Who knew then its strategic importance? Count this Trinity purchase as a long-term win!
3. Campus Master Plan
For its tangible, long-term impact, the development of the Campus Master Plan was probably the biggest administrative initiative of the year. The long-term planning will unify elements of campus design, generally respects the original design, and addresses several important issues. The planned renovation of Chapman-Halsell-Library will round out the academic renovations on upper campus, whenever it happens. The residential area will see its own improvements as noted in 2a. above. Finally, in the long-term, exciting changes to the Coates University Center are in their infancy. (This made last year's list as well.)
4. Campus Discourse
This made the list at number five last year. Tigers For Liberty continued to stoke the flames of campus dialogue by pushing the envelope through sponsoring conservative speakers such as Dinesh D'Souza and Ryan Anderson. The election results seemed to embolden the group while deflating other organizations. They ceased on an unfortunate and minor incident related to fliers and made the event a media circus. Our campus hasn't been so engaged, politically, in awhile.
5.Trinity Market comes and goes
The idea of a campus market was well-considered and funded by a grant. It couldn't lose. Everything was done well except it turned out there wasn't a market for the Trinity Market. The venture never gained traction in the community. Perhaps this was due to the competing Pearl Market on the same morning. Maybe some bad weather and a few other breaks kept it from hitting its stride and maintaining momentum. Too bad. This was well done.
6. SGA fails to approve spirit of Greek Council budget request
Full disclosure: I advise Student Government Association with several colleagues. But we didn't see this coming. In a move that seemed opaque and poorly considered, SGA initially voted not to support the spirit of the funding request. This brought tremendous backlash from students and alumni, mostly because it was out of the blue and the reasons weren't clearly articulated. It resulted in some bad blood, resignations, and impeachment proceedings (that didn't carry). As with free speech, the student activity fee is the domain of the students. If there was any doubt, SGA has real authority. This was a learning experience on so many levels for so many students.
7. First Year Experience and Advising
As part of accreditation, the University is required to initiate a Quality Enhancement Plan of its choosing. After consideration of several proposals, the campus leadership settled on developing a proposal to improve the first year experience and advising. Trinity is well-positioned with generally committed faculty advisors as well as a strong FYE course and first-year residence halls. Developing support systems and structures for student success are critical and this effort has great potential. Look for it to be further up the list next year.
There were some terrific campus-sponsored speakers this year, including astronaut Scott Kelly, Marc Lamont Hill, Nikki Giovanni, Kamau Bell, and David Cameron. The Reading TUgether program kicked off the year when Michael Moss discussed his book Salt, Sugar, Fat.
9. Tobacco-free Campus
Momentum was building to eliminate tobacco and smoke from campus environs for years. It is becoming unusual for campuses to not be designated this way as the science behind the importance of a smoke and tobacco-free environment is undeniable. While the University seemed to shove this down people's lungs, it had to. The only reason opponents could cite to NOT go this direction was because they didn't want to be told what to do or not. There is so much more compelling information on the other side.
This makes the list if for no other reason that it took SGA Presidents Evan Lewis, Sean McCutchen, and Brenna Hill years to bring B-Cycle to campus. Current SGA President Nick Santulli got elected and within a month the program was approved. It was Ronald Reagan and the Iran hostage crisis all over again (Google it). Added to Zipcar and Uber, this makes it very easy for our students to get off campus.
- Trinity University Best in West for 25 years and other accolades: We're so great!
- Fraternities and sororities: Exceptional response and professional conduct following SGA Greek Council action.
- Safer Party Initiative (SPIn) and TiPS alcohol training: Despite glitches, students are starting to take their role in creating campus climate seriously.
- SGA President Nick Santulli's leadership and communication through the SGA and Greek Council issues.
- New conduct model: Discussion panels assessed as more fair, which makes student learning and accountability more likely. (Disclosure, this is an initiative from Dean of Students Office).
- Mayoral forum on campus
- Sky Rides
- 3Lau, I suppose...
- Standing item: Acabellas and Trinitones
- SGA swearing-in. Look what it wrought...
- Pet Hall (grrrr)
- Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease
- Tornado. BARELY a miss.
- The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and city announced a route change to eliminate the hills near campus (yay!) but now the route will bypass Trinity (hiss...).
Under the Radar
- Club Rio closes. Good riddance.
- Optimal Buzz and B'Low Optimal programs win national NASPA Excellence Award.
- Our obituary page reflects the losses of former faculty and staff members.
- The German Fulbright students. Seeing our students send them off was sad. They really connected!
On the Horizon
- Still... Bell Center renovations are underway.
- Academic Success Center in the library. The plans are wonderful!
- Don't look now, but 150th anniversary is just around the corner and so is a capital campaign.
In case you missed it, here are the topics I got to write about this year. Trinity is rich with material:
It's a Draw
To pee or not to pee...
Sticks and Stones
We bought that?
Rain and Shine
Mind Over Matter
Reboot: Tony the Tiger