By: Sarah Donofrio
The Student Government Association held its annual Town Hall with President John Garvey on Wednesday night in the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center in order to address student concerns. After discussing various aspects of the university’s master plan and enrollment details, President Garvey answered questions submitted before the event by students before giving students in attendance the opportunity to ask questions. Topics included the university’s plan to improve dining options, the recent tuition increase, the university’s diversity, and the unofficial LGBTQ student organization, CUAllies.
Before President Garvey spoke, Student Government Association President Kristina Pinault opened the event with a State of the Student Body address. In her address, Pinault mentioned various achievements of the Student Government Association and its dedication to improving the university community. She mentioned the recently developed Student Government Association website, the Solidarity Gathering, and the development of an energy-efficient water bottle filling station.
President Garvey spent the first half of the ninety-minute meeting discussing recent improvements and developments of the university as well as the growth of the university since its founding 130 years ago. President Garvey mentioned recently developed programs including programs in government intelligence, an interdisciplinary minor in neuroscience, as well as new masters and joint degree programs. He also discussed efforts to improve university security and to improve the student experience. In 2016, the university redesigned its website, improved online communication using “digital platforms,” focused on a campaign for mission trips, and raised $56 billion dollars. In fall 2017, the university intends to open the lower level of Murphy’s Restaurant in order to offer a bar and additional dining services. After completing a student experience research initiative earlier this year, the university also intends to improve its dining services. Additionally, the university plans to improve navigation of campus; some ideas about these improvements involve providing street names and signs for various locations on campus and updates to the gateways into campus.
At the commencement of his discussion of university development, President Garvey briefly addressed CUAllies.
“We’re not going to officially sponsor CUAllies. But that should not, I hope, be the measure of our support,” said President Garvey. “We do not want to endorse a whole set of propositions that our culture insists on sexuality and gender,” said President Garvey. “Neither do we want to ignore the needs of our gay and lesbian students. We ask all freshmen to take a pledge when coming here, we offer a counseling center, and Father Jude has a chaplet initiative.”
In the student question panel, President Garvey answered a variety of questions related to topics including expanding the hours of the Eugene I. Kane Fitness Center, the development of more student dining facilities, the impact of President Trump’s recent executive order, the tuition increase, and the university’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly and culturally diverse.
Students who attended the Student Government Association Town Hall found the event informative yet intriguing.
“I really thought that the meeting was intriguing. President Garvey discussed some hot topics, including CUAllies and the improvement of the Pryz. It was nice to have some direct answers to our questions,” said freshman theology major Freddie Burke.
Other students were pleased with President Garvey’s responses and the opportunity to understand Catholic University’s master plan.
“The meeting was really productive. It was great that he gave bits from the master plan because it is too lengthy to know the important parts.” said freshman business management student Claudia Ralph. “It was also important that he addressed the Pryz and dining plans, and that he recognized that there is a need for improvement.”
At the end of the Town Hall, President Garvey emphasized his appreciation for student input before thanking the Student Government Association for hosting Wednesday night’s student panel.