The aftermath of the Halloween weekend snowstorm in the Briarcliff campus, updates of the Master Plan, and concerns for graduate students were among the focus of the community meeting held on Nov. 2.
Senior education student Jordon Tempro was the first to ask a question and it was about the rumored elimination of graduate housing on campus.
The inquiry may have stemmed from the Howard Johnson Hall dormitory in Briarcliff becoming undergraduate housing instead of a graduate-only dorm, as it has been for many years. Graduate students have now been placed in the Extended Stay hotel in Elmsford and in the Pace Law School campus.
“Me being in a five year program for the School of Education, I’m really seeing this as a hindrance…now I’m hearing that there will be no more graduating housing,” said Tempro. “So I’m just wondering how did that process come about, how that plan is going, who’s involved in the communication and reaching out to the people who will be most involved and most affected, that’s the students.”
According to Dean for Students Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo, in reference of Howard Johnson Hall, it has been a discussion since last year, “so it really affected our [graduate] students this year. We did have focus groups to talk with those students.”
Fifth year students have been put into the townhouses and New Dorm to accommodate the residential changes.
First year graduate student Jacob Knisely asked about the possibilities of having Pace transportation from Extended Stay to the main campus.
Bardill Moscaritolo stated that when they spoke to graduate students, the majority of them had cars, but they will look into adding a bus service to and from the hotel.
Senior psychology student Hannah Tall questioned the availability of extra study spaces and extended hours at computer labs.
In response, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Bill McGrath said he is working to make it a “regular practice that the study spaces and computer labs will be open for a longer period of time.”
The effects of the Halloween weekend snowstorm brought out concerns about cafeteria hours and transportation. Junior and Briarcliff resident Nathaniel Carter first questioned about the early shutdown of the cafeteria.
“Two things happened; we didn’t have a way to get food and the transportation was out,” said Carter, who asked about what are Pace’s procedural plans when dining services end early.
Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Mary Lieto stated that due to the conditions on Oct. 29, the cafeteria was forced to close for the safety of the workers and even offered housing to them until the snowstorm passed.
University Transportation Director Francoise Crespo explained why the bus service was shut down that Saturday as a bus went into a ditch.
“I apologize for having to cancel, the main reason was a 3:30 afternoon bus…went into a ditch, and for your own safety, this is why we decided to cancel [services]. There were trees and branches falling all over and it was much safer for you guys to stay in and for us to stay off the roads as well.”
Director of Building Operations and Maintenance William Link added to the discussion caused by the snowstorm and if the power outages will be a constant occurrence in future storms this winter.
“Unfortunately the outage was on the [Con Edison] grid, as most of the county was out. We do have backup generators…they do require maintenance, they do have mechanical problems,” said Link. “We’ve had a couple of shutdowns during the outage which we were out maybe a half-hour, 40 minutes, but we had them up and running as quickly as possible. We do the best we can, and keep them running.”
Criminal justice Professor Margaret Fitzgerald spoke about Pace needing an emergency plan, especially in times when dining facilities close early.
Bardill Moscaritolo replied, and on behalf of Residential Life, said, “We can review that…usually there’s always someone you can go to or talk, we don’t want you to go hungry either. We can work with food services and see what we can do. I know [Chartwells] have concerns because if the Briarcliff [power] goes down, then there are health and safety concerns. You can’t keep the food out for too long…we have to look at what we can do.”
Tempro questioned about the late night hours of the Mortola Library and if it can be extended passed 2 a.m.
“The fact that is closes at 2 o’clock is very late and very helpful but the learning process does not stop at 2 o’clock in the morning,” said Tempro. “If we are preparing our students to do jobs that require them to be up past those hours…I really think it will be a benefit to all students. I know it might be a staffing issue but I know students who are more than willing to take that staff position.
Associate University Librarian Steven Feyl stated that library hours has been an issue “for a while.”
“I think my major concern, in representing the library, is that when we make that jump to 24 hours, that it’ll be done right and that it’ll be done safe and that the building is set up so we can appropriately do 24 hours,” said Feyl.
Interim Provost Harriet Feldman asked Feyl if “the wheels are being put in motion to try to do this?”
“It will be a matter of getting the funding to retrofit the building,” replied Feyl.
Feldman would then ask if she can be given prospective to figure out if extending library hours is possible.
An update of the Master Plan was asked by sophomore education student Charles Link.
“We submitted the plan in June to the town of Mount Pleasant,” said McGrath. “The regulatory process has begun. There was a public meeting with the planning board for the town of Mount Pleasant. At that meeting, we were asking for them to accept the scope of studies we were proposing in order to demonstrate the impact the plan will have on the environment, that’s the regulatory process which will take probably the next 18 months.”
In terms of floor plans and the renderings of the buildings, McGrath stated that in the next three months there will be a series of focus groups consisting of students, faculty, and staff for different areas of the Plan, such as housing and athletics. Geological studies have commenced on campus; this is done to know how the soil of the campus is as well as ground water runoff.
Bardill Moscaritolo added that she’s been working with Student Association President Kayla Turner on a student focus group and is open to all students willing to participate. If interested, email DeanLisa@pace.edu.
The next community meeting will take place next semester in the Gottesman Room of the Kessel Student Center.