Trustees meet with students


Trustee Lev Kubiak, left, speaks with students, from left, Noelle Zesky, Austin Shinhearl and Hannah Gibson at the Board of Trustees Student Meet and Greet on Feb. 17.

Lauren Abbott, Opinion editor

On Feb. 17, the third annual Trustee and Student Social was held in the Catherine Walker Reading Room in the Hammermill Library.

The annual meeting is a chance for students to meet and talk with Mercyhurst Board of Trustee members about the changes and happenings at the university.

Students were invited to come from all different aspects of the Mercyhurst community and engage with the trustees.

This is an important event for interested students to attend because of the potential to create changes that will affect the school in the future.

“The Trustee and Student Social is important because it brings together students and the stewards of our university. This year marks the third year this event has been held, and I am sure the experience shared by the students that attended will enhance the lives of students for years to come,” Jonah Jackson, Mercyhurst Student Government president, said.

Students had the chance to break into small groups and rotate through, talking to trustees on issues such as university responsiveness, campus safety, parking and housing.

Peggy Pietraszak, Board of Trustee member, Mercyhurst alumna and former Merciad executive editor, explained the importance of such an event.

“This is the third one. I’ve been at all three, and when you’re a trustee we don’t see the students. We see the decisions that are made for you. … I thought it was an excellent way, if you have a concern, you can tell somebody, and at least maybe we can get something going,” Pietraszak said.

The social is a time when students can voice their concerns and give feedback about the school.

The hope for this event is that the student body embraces the opportunity to meet with trustees, and also that the overall meet-and-greet event grows as a result. The trustees wish to add additional awareness of their board to the current student body.

An understanding of what the board of trustees is will allow for more progress to be made on campus.

“I hope more students recognize the efforts that we’re going through so they come out to these things more so we can hear more feedback, so we can make the university better for you,” Andrea Jeffress, Board of Trustees member, said.

Students got to bring up and discuss topics such as athletic equipment and sports facilities.

“I was talking to some North East students and their soccer field is in bad shape and those are things that we would direct to the administration as something to think about,” Pietraszak said.
Athletes at both the Main and North East campuses are important to hear from because they use large facilities that need constant upkeep.

“We have a lot of athletes who are excellent students and the feedback from them is we need better facilities, and they went out and started fundraising. We heard it, and we’re acting on it,” Jeffress said.

It is important that students from a variety of backgrounds attend these kinds of events where student feedback is crucial.

“I think hearing multiple different students and their opinions on Mercyhurst will benefit everybody because it’s not just Jonah, it’s not just people in MSG, it is students that aren’t so involved to people who are the most involved on campus. It’s a wide variety of students and their views on Mercyhurst,” Austin Shinhearl, senior Hospitality Management major, said.

Campus safety was also brought up. One suggestion was a safety app that could be downloaded to students’ phones.

“Almost everybody has this in their pocket, and that’s where you’re going to go first,” Gerry Tobin, Ph.D., said.

DJ Fuhrmann, chief of Mercyhurst’s Police and Safety, was also in attendance and engaged with students in talks about campus safety.

“We talked about concerns regarding lighting on both Main and North East campuses, particularly around residence halls and parking garages,” Sophia Jensen, a sophomore Intelligence Studies major, said.

Both students and trustees seemed very energized by the end of the social, and eager to take what they had talked about back to the Mercyhurst community.

The social fostered much-needed discussion about campus and forged a relationship between students and trustees that will continue to grow in the coming years.

“We’re all one Mercyhurst family, and I’ve seen just with the new feedback, we still have a ways to go,” Jeffress said. “But it’s a beginning, and just by talking to the students, you can see that it’s less talk and more action and putting plans in place that will benefit the students. Because what good is the feedback if you don’t act on it?”