Student org plans virtual town halls, seeking clarity from VCU administration

With the move from in-person to online classes, there are few students, faculty or staff on campus. Photo by Georgia Geen

Anya Sczerzenie, Contributing Writer 

Frustrated with what they perceived as a lack of concrete solutions from university administration during the COVID-19 outbreak, members of Student Power at VCU hosted a strategy meeting on Tuesday to plan a second virtual town hall and share their concerns with officials.

Students discussed VCU’s decision not to refund tuition, as well as access to online counseling, increased police presence on campus, lack of accommodations for disabled students in online classes, and a lack of information regarding student worker pay.

Student worker Laweezah Malik, who did not feel comfortable disclosing her position at VCU, said she hasn’t heard back from human resources about concerns regarding summer workers.

“Right now we’re only getting paid four times, and it’s only until May 9,” Malik said. “Most of us work during the summer, and we haven’t been paid at all, and we haven’t heard anything.”

Members of Student Power said VCU administration’s coronavirus-related statements, whether during the last town hall or in emails, are too vague and don’t offer answers to student concerns.

“We’re thankful that Peter Buckley apologized, but the apology provides no real answers or insight into the decision-making.” – Mikey Ramlogan, director of research for VCU Student Power

Buckley, interim vice president and CEO of VCU Health System, apologized during Student Power’s town hall on Thursday and said the university was “performing in a crisis” when student belongings were removed from the Honors College dorm without notifying residents.

The student organization is compiling a list of demands for VCU administration, which they plan to finish before the next student town hall. This list will reflect issues brought up by students during the first town hall and the strategy meeting. 

“The main reason for this meeting today is to help get the demands list out sooner,” said Mary Truz, treasurer of VCU Student Power.

Sabah Munshi, the group’s president, said they will be sending out a Google form to collect student comments and questions before the next town hall meeting. 

Many students within the organization said they want higher-level administrators, such as VCU President Michael Rao, to attend the meeting and hear student concerns directly.

“A lot of the people they send to the calls have certain power among their divisions, but they need approval from higher administration,” student Raven Witherspoon said. “So some of them are trying to work for students, but they’re getting pushback from higher-ups.”

After their first town hall was “Zoom bombed” by racist images, Student Power has increased security on their meetings to prevent another attack. About 20 students, including five Student Power club officers, attended Tuesday’s meeting over Zoom.  

As of now, there is no set date for the next student town hall, but VCU Student Power will post a poll on their Twitter and Instagram to decide the best day.

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  1. VCU administration should be taking Student Power at VCU more seriously

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