By Duane Paul Murphy
Catholic University President John Garvey held a town hall with the Student Government Association, open to all members of the Catholic University community on Monday in the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center Great Rooms to discuss the university’s development and enrollment plans. The discussion was largely dominated by members of CUAllies, an unofficial LGBT student organization, and their questions regarding the status of official recognition.
“It’s a complicated set of questions,” Garvey said.
Garvey told the crowd that he would be willing to facilitate a dialogue with the members of the student group, but he does not “want to create a false hope.”
Before Garvey made his opening remarks, Student Government Association President Anne St. Amant made a State of the Student Body address to those in attendance. In her address, she mentioned the initiatives the student government is working towards this year and praised the efforts put in by the members of the organization.
In his opening remarks, Garvey announced a new set of marketing strategies to further promote the university by creating a new Office of Marketing and Communications, which would be headed by an Associate Vice President.
“Over the course of the next year, our new Office of Marketing and Communications will begin doing TV, radio, and digital advertising,” Garvey said.
Garvey also announced Murphy’s Restaurant, the bar slated to open in the Pryzbyla Center, is planned to begin operation by the summer of 2016. Garvey hopes another $1 million will be raised for the construction project. Also mentioned in his speech was the creation a Center for Cultural Engagement in order to provide more support and opportunities towards underrepresented minority students as well as foreign students.
Following his speech, the floor was open to student questions including two pre-recorded questions from both the Program Board and CUAllies. The first question, which was presented by CUAllies, asked Garvey what procedures they need to complete in order to obtain official recognition.
Several members of the group questioned Garvey about why CUAllies cannot become recognized, but College Republicans and College Democrats are recognized despite some of their contradicting views with the Catholic Church’s social values. Garvey said that the university’s lawyers and administration have struggled with the recognition due to issues relating to first amendment rights and the university’s rules.
Other issues brought up at the town hall included tuition, Maloney Hall’s interior development and reconstruction, and student diversity. One student received applause after asking about the lack of paid maternity leave for faculty or staff and a daycare system for their children. Garvey said that the university could enact a possible solution that would include tenure reform allowing faculty and staff to have a balanced work schedule in order to meet with their parental and family needs. However, in regards to daycare, he said that it will be a difficult issue with the school’s finances and legal issues. He also did not address a question regarding support for female college students who become mothers during the time of their studies.
John Deckers, a freshman Media Studies major, thought the open dialogue with President Garvey was very good idea. He appreciated the opportunity to bring up issues on campus.
Deckers went on to say that he wished to see more members of the administration present or involved. He was also interested in issues relating to the maintenance of media technologies on campus, which he thought were lacking. However, he believed that Garvey still lacked transparency.
“He is a very good dancer when it comes to words,” said Deckers in response to Garvey’s aversion towards certain question from the students.
“I believed the Town Hall session was excellent,” said Andrew Morgan, a freshman Theology major.
“I would love to see a Town Hall maybe once each semester. It’s a good way of getting CUA students involved and heard by the Administration, as well as a good opportunity for the students to hear from the Administration,” Morgan said.
At the close of the nintey minute town hall, Garvey said, “I am grateful to Anne St. Amant and the Student Government Association for organizing the town hall. It was a wonderful opportunity to share with our students some of the University’s recent successes and our plans for the future. And I appreciated hearing from our students their own hopes and concerns.”