President Ayers' chief of staff insisted at a joint meeting of the student government associations Wednesday night that the waning U.S. economy and the school's dwindling $1.7 billion endowment were not going to alter the university's proposed strategic plan.
Chief of Staff Lori Schuyler discussed the state of the plan and took questions from members of the Weshampton College Government Association and the Richmond College Student Government Association, who voiced their concerns about it.
"We shouldn't temper our ambitions based on the current economic situation," she said.
The strategic plan includes five principles upon that Ayers says he hopes will fulfill the "Richmond Promise," of improving and expanding the University of Richmond community.
Schuyler said the improvements could be made by increasing the overall funding of student programs. Certain student activities must be funded because they support the larger strategic purpose. But no specific organizations have been targeted as of yet, because the university must determine how resources will be allotted, she said.
Schuyler also said the university was looking to alter its financial aid program by extending access to those in need and becoming more transparent -- an effort to ensure no applicant walks away from the university "without knowing that the door was open," she said.
For the most part, alumni have voiced their approval of the plan, Schuyler said. She called on all parties involved -- students, staff, alumni and anyone else with a vested interest in the plan -- to work toward achieving its goals.
"The Strategic Plan offers a shared determination to go in a particular direction. ... It is not a to-do list, but is more ambitious and less precise," Schuyler said.
At the same meeting, WCGA and RCSGA proposed creating a Student Program Council, a group that would plan the largest events on campus, instead of the student governments. Some said the council should be composed of student representatives from various organizations, while others said they don't believe membership should be limited to people already in groups.
WCGA president Generra Peck spoke on behalf of other student government associations about concerns with JuicyCampus.com, a Web site that allows students to write anonymously about any topic or person related to his or her college. University of Richmond student government presidents said the Web site could scar the campus environment.
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"Juicy Campus is a malicious and very destructive website," Peck said.
Other universities have been proactive in counteracting the negative effects of the Web site, including blocking it, creating safer alternatives and initiating a campaign to write positive messages on the Web site.
Later, Gabrielle Misiewicz spoke about Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which the university will celebrate with a commemorative walk, performances in Cannon Memorial Chapel, and a speech by Judge Roger Gregory, the first African-American appointed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
Before the joint meeting, WCGA voted to help fund a "bike library" on campus.
Karen DeBonis, representing a joint venture by RENEW and the Sierra Club, requested $1,000 in funding for the program from the government associations, which would pay for five bicycles at $150 each, bike locks, lights, reflectors, and other accessories. Students would be able to rent the bikes in order to leave campus.
DeBonis asserted that bicycles were environmentally safe, provided a quick and efficient form of transportation, and allowed students to be independent and self-sufficient. The program would be overseen by the Center for Civic Engagement, and bikes would be stored in or around Tyler Haynes Commons.
Contact reporter Jimmy Young at firstname.lastname@example.org
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