FDU Students Voice Concerns at Campus Town Hall Meeting

By Patricia Ressell-Deras
Staff Writer

The Equinox began reporting on FDU’s proposed restructuring in 2016, and has since seen changes on campus, in the curriculum, throughout the administration, and now with student’s course schedules. An email blast was sent on March 6, 2019, solidifying students’ fears of upcoming changes.

The email that Provost Gillian Small sent out to all students on the Metropolitan campus read:

“The fall 2019 semester will thus see the implementation of a common course schedule grid for both the Florham and Metropolitan campuses that entails a Monday/Thursday, Tuesday/Friday schedule with common start times and 15 minutes in between each scheduled start time.”

The email also included a bit of background as to why the University is making such changes, “…to better align the academic organization, curricula and activities of the campuses.”

After the email was sent, students immediately expressed their worries and frustrations. Metro’s Student Government Association heard the concerns and scheduled a Town Hall meeting with Provost Gillian Small on March 20, 2019.

The event was not as publicly advertised as the prior town hall meeting last month with President Christopher Capuano, regarding the May commencement ceremony. The only notice of the event was one Instagram post from SGA, the same day the email blast was sent out.

The post only contained a brief caption mentioning a town hall meeting with Provost Small and the time. There was no room number or location on the post indicating where the meeting was going to be held.

A small handful of students attended the town hall meeting and voiced their opinions.

The meeting began with Provost Small addressing the students about the physical changes that have been happening at the Metropolitan campus, and what students will expect to see in the near future. Provost Small spoke about unity and sustainability between the two campuses in her opening.

One point that Provost Small stressed is that students will not be forced to travel in between campuses.

“Students will not have to travel, unless they want to,” Provost Small stated, which relieved a lot of student’s concerns. Provost Small also mentioned that, “the faculty on [Metropolitan] campus will still teach on this campus, the faculty on Florham will still teach on Florham.”

Provost Small transitioned into how a committee, made up of faculty and administrators, “adopted” this new course schedule. This schedule, which reflects the Florham campus’ current schedule, was chosen due to Florham “not [having] the physical capacity to accommodate a schedule [like Metropolitan].”

Before the floor opened for student questions, Provost Small stated that in the future, “everybody will have forgotten this and everybody will get used to the new schedule.”

Students had the opportunity to ask Provost Small questions regarding class frequency, classes pertaining to specific majors, how the new schedule will coordinate with students’ work schedules and how this change will affect student life on the campus.

Freshman psychology major, Adam Matter, raised a very important question at the meeting regarding the course changes affecting his religious duties.

Matter asked Provost Small whether Friday classes will end early enough so they wouldn’t interfere with Friday prayer.

Provost Small responded by explaining that one of the two time slots, 12 P.M to 1 P.M or 1 P.M to 2 P.M, will still be available to students, “as long as you pick your courses carefully.” Provost Small did mention that classes will finish “either around 12:00 or around 1:00” on Fridays.

In a follow up interview with Matter, he told The Equinox that Provost Small, “kind of reassured me,” that he would be able to attend classes and maintain his religious duties.

When asked about his opinion of the overall meeting, Matter noted that “more students should have [came]…and they didn’t.”

Matter also addressed the fact that other campus executives such as Craig Morton and Vidal Lopez were at the town hall meeting, seated in the back. Neither talked about the course schedule changes and Matter noted that he felt as though “they might have not had room to say whatever they wanted to say because they kind of knew that this is already happening so they can’t really argue with the boss, per se.”

Provost Small stated at the beginning of the meeting that “the important people in the University are the students,” but many of them did not walk away feeling like that was the case.

After the town hall meeting, many students were still unhappy with the new changes, and even more unhappy with how the meeting turned out. The prominent emotions that many attendees left with was anger and confusion.

“It was divisive,” said Trisha Williams, a junior majoring in Clinical Social Work, who attended the meeting. Williams further stated that, “…it’s unnecessary and just adds a burden to the students already limited choices.”

Lorenzo Martinez, a sophomore majoring in Computer Science left the meeting feeling very confused. “I mean there’s things that I really don’t understand…she should have – could have expanded more,” Martinez told The Equinox.

One thing that stuck out to students though is that these course changes are here to stay, and the decision is final. Starting as soon as next semester, FDU Metro will have a combined course schedule with the Florham the campus – a Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday schedule, with Wednesday mornings reserved for once a week courses, labs or select MWF courses.

Williams told The Equinox that she felt as though “the administration didn’t intend on changing [the new schedule]. They already made up their minds.”

Martinez agreed, “I understand they’re faculty, they make decisions, but at the same time…I feel like its benefitting less people and hurting more people.”