John Garvey Responds to Student Concerns at Presidential Town Hall

Courtesy of Duane Paul Murphy

By Catherine O’Grady

Catholic University’s Student Government Association (SGA) hosted its annual Presidential Town Hall with President John Garvey and SGA President Jimmy Harrington. During the meeting, held in Heritage Hall Monday night, Garvey spoke on the progress that university has made recently before he responded to concerns raised by students.

In his address, President Garvey gave a thorough update on the construction on campus and addressed the progress made by the Catholic University community on campus in science, the arts, and athletics. Garvey also commented on  the positive impact the Catholic U community has made in the Brookland areas, and discussed the comprehensive campaign the University is to publicly launch to financially support academically focused improvements on campus, such as the employment of more faculty members and the creation of new majors. Garvey also discussed the energy project that has resulted in the construction on campus and assured the students that the walkway between Pangborn and Gowan and the lawn in front of the Pryzbyla Center will be usable by the time of commencement.

“In the last nine years at Catholic University, we have been experiencing the greatest growth occasion in all of Catholic University’s history,” said Garvey.

Garvey also commented on the strides that Catholic University has made to make this area a more liveable space for undergraduate students, but recognized the improvements that need to be made in regards to recreational space for students and field space for athletes.

After Garvey’s address, Harrington asked Garvey questions that were submitted by students in the previous week. Garvey answered questions regarding diversity and inclusion on campus for members of racially diverse backgrounds as well as those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. In his response, Garvey praised the Center for Cultural Engagement for their presence to minorities and marginalized groups on campus. Garvey was also asked about the scandal in college admissions, the new appointment of Archbishop Gregory Role, the increase of tuition on campus, access of childcare for faculty, and CUAllies as an unrecognized organization, topics for which he gave an acknowledgment but did not provide any solutions.

Attendees were then given the opportunity to directly ask Garvey their questions. Garvey responded to questions about the lack of mental health services on campus as the Counseling Center is no longer taking new patients for the rest of the semester, a specific location for the politics department, as the largest major on campus currently does not have its own specific location, and the treatment of faculty and staff of Catholic U. Garvey acknowledged these concerns but did not provide any tangible way to solve these issues.

In Harrington’s address, he discussed the progress his administration has made in the last year including the legislation passed by SGA Senate that focused on the well-being of students, such as the implementation of surveys for all student employees and a mandate requiring all teachers to use Blackboard to ensure that students know how well they are doing in classes. Harrington discussed the service initiatives that SGA led in support of marginalized individuals and the positive role it has played in the Catholic community. Harrington accredited the success of this SGA administration to the students he represents and their desire to improve the overall Catholic community.

“Student Government now stands united in service and committed firmly to our fellow students,” said Harrington.

Students in attendance of the meeting had mixed reactions about the Town Hall meeting.

“It was less of a checklist of accomplishments,” said Aaron Mackisey in regards to Harrington’s address, “and more a reinforcement of the community that we’re so lucky to have at CU, and which SGA always strives to contribute to.”

Senior studio art major Alex Huntley disagrees with Mackisey on the productivity of the meeting.

“I felt that it was a very typical Garvey town hall, typical in the sense that questions were left unanswered,” said Huntley. “Garvey doesn’t answer questions, he rephrases the questions, then goes into a tangent.”

Will McGowan, freshman economics major, described the Town Hall meeting as “refreshing.”

“I feel extremely lucky as a student at Catholic because there are very few universities where the president of the school comes to speak with students personally about concerns and the well being of the university,” said McGowan.

The Town Hall praised the  progress Catholic University has made but served as a reminder of the work that has yet to be done.

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