Thursday, May 3, 2007

News: Lang Students Vexed by Building Hours



Jonathan Veitch, Dean of Lang, addressed students' concerns last week. Photographed by Emily Alexander.

By Peter Holslin & Hannah Rappleye

At a Dean’s Forum hosted by the Lang Student Union last Tuesday, Lang Dean Jonathan Veitch and other Lang administrators encouraged students to write a petition that would open 65 West 11th St. and 55 West 13th St. buildings for 24 hours during the school year.

The handful of students in attendance brought up a litany of concerns, including gripes over the university’s unpredictable building hours. Students also questioned the lack of scholarships, requested copy machines in the Lang building and expressed doubts over the quality and cost of the cafeteria food offered by Chartwells, the university’s cafeteria service.

The deans agreed with students that current building hours are inconvenient and that the students could benefit from additional technology in the Lang building, like copy machines and printers.

Amos Himmelstein, Assistant Dean at Lang, noted that opening the buildings for 24 hours would demand that university staff re-organize work schedules. He also said it could raise safety concerns.

Nevertheless, Guinevere Molina, director of Lang’s office of Student Development and Activities, noted that university security is headquartered in 55 West 13th, which could help the students’ cause.

The next day, the LSU wrote the petition and are now looking for student support. LSU can be contacted at LSU@newschool.edu.

Students also said there is a lack of support for those who are interested in pursuing service projects that address social justice issues, especially those that relate to people of color in New York City.

“It’s really hard to get support if you don’t have connections, if you don’t know this person in this office or this part of the administration,” one student said. “It’s hard to do work that’s genuine and responsible.”

Ella Turenne, Director of Special Projects, said that administrators and faculty are working to ensure that students are able to get involved in community building. She said that next spring, Lang will introduce a three-year program that focuses on long term service projects, but in the meantime, students should speak out if they have an idea for a project.

“If you have ideas, you should let us know,” Turrenne said. “It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in conversations with faculty and administration and students, because it take a lot of time and resources to put that kind of thing together.”

Turrenne also said that students should reach out to organizations like LSU and the Student Life and Outreach Committee. “Sometimes it’s better that the administration is not part of what you’re doing,” she added.

Himmelstein responded to concerns that Lang was not receiving any money from the BA/FA program, saying that Lang should receive at least 30% of the funds next fall.

Students also asked why Lang is introducing majors and minors, expressing worry over what they feel is the “mainstreaming” of The New School.

Associate Dean Kathleen Breidenbach explained that by law, Lang is not allowed to require that students state concentrations because the only undergraduate degree the college offers is Liberal Arts.

The majors should not be any different from the concentrations, Breidenbach said.

“All we’re doing is trying to certify what we’re doing already,” she added.

Earlier, Dan Schulman, an LSU facilitator, asked why financial services took away the merit-based scholarship of a student he knew. Veitch said this student should contact the Dean’s office directly, and explained that the only way students could lose such a scholarship would be if they either failed to submit an application on time, or if their GPA sunk below the required average.

About 70% of students at Lang receive some kind of financial aid and most of students’ awards reflect their financial needs, Veitch said. On average, there is a 38% discount to families in need.

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