Students Voice Their Concerns
by Greta Petry (May
moderator Laurie Reilly, Nick Chiucholo,
Brianne Myers, Esmerelda Hoscoy, Don
Boyce, Mike Reynolds, and Ben Shotten.
Faculty, staff, and President Kermit L. Hall
listened April 19 as six undergraduates voiced
their concerns with course availability, access
to faculty, and academic advising in the first "Voice
of the Students" panel discussion in
Campus Center 375. Laurie Reilly, who hosts
a Sunday talk show on WGY radio, was the moderator.
"If we want to meet the needs of our students, we need to do whatever we
can to understand those needs," said Associate Vice President for Student
Affairs Christine Bouchard, the event organizer. "The 'Voice of the
Students' is a great way to help us pay closer attention to those needs
One issue that emerged was the need to improve
the transfer student experience. Transfer orientation
for Don Boyce, a junior from Orange County
Community College, meant filling out lots of
papers, while figuring out how to find the
Financial Aid office and where to go for a
SUNYCard. He added that not knowing the system
works against transfers. "I didn't know what an SKN number was for
quite some time," he said. "Students should be told the process of
getting into a class can be quite competitive."
Orientation experiences varied widely, from
Boyce's one transfer day to
Mike Reynolds' "great" freshman orientation, to sophomore Esmerelda
Hoscoy's smooth five-week orientation through the Educational Opportunities
Program. Hoscoy said that by the time her orientation was over, she knew
the entire campus and was showing everyone else around.
General Education requirements were another
issue discussed. Reynolds, a student-athlete,
said he has directed many students to the Web
site listing which classes fit General Education
requirements. "I don't think students know
this [Web site] exists," he said. Hoscoy said
she didn't realize that if you take a Gen Ed
class, it can become part of your major or
minor. Boyce added, "just when you think you
have your Gen Eds under control, you don't."
Course availability was also an issue of
concern. Several students said they've "pleaded" for
SKN numbers, the numbers that a faculty member provides to let a student
into an already-full class.
Sophomore Nick Chiucholo, a political science
major, said he had to switch his minor from
education because he couldn't get into the appropriate classes. "They've
red-flagged me or something," he quipped.
Junior Brianne Myers, a Presidential Scholar
who has special registration privileges, said
she's "been blessed," but added that students who plan
ahead need to know which classes are going to be dropped or switched in the coming
Senior Ben Shotten said he's had no problem with course availability. He
added that "somehow, some way," most students find a way to get into
their classes. The ideal, however, is that no student should have to face hurdles
to obtain his or her classes.
Reynolds suggested that Information Technology
Services offer training to freshmen and sophomores
on how to use MyUAlbany software. Other than
course" at orientation, he didn't know how it worked. Boyce said
that with only three computers to use in the School of Business for transfer
registration, "I didn't even know what MyUAlbany was. Everything
was trial and error. It was a big learning curve."
Students were asked if larger classes would
be acceptable. While Hoscoy said she prefers
smaller classes, Chiucholo said, "Five hundred students in
a class, that's fine. I just want to get into the classes I need." Chiucholo
said that while faculty and staff try hard to add extra students to classes, "plain
and simple, there are just not enough seats (openings) in the classrooms."
When School of Criminal Justice Professor
Jim Acker asked whether students would take
Saturday morning classes if offered, reaction
Boyce thought a Tuesday/Thursday/ Saturday
class could be promising. "I
see benefits, because this is not a commuter campus," he said.
Reynolds said as an athlete, a Saturday morning
class would make it very difficult for him
But Hoscoy liked the idea, saying, "I need to work no matter what." She
said she might take a Saturday morning class so she could work Saturday nights.
She generally takes classes from mornings until 2:30 or 3 p.m., so she can work
from 4 to 9:30 p.m.
Regarding faculty availability, students
said they want professors to respond to their
e-mails and advertise office hours.
Reynolds said if professors will list their
office hours on the classroom chalk board daily, "I guarantee they will have students at their office hours."
Said Hoscoy, "If the professors would be there during their office hours,
that would be great."
Faculty and staff enjoyed the session, many
coming away with a new understanding of issues
that mean the most to students.
"I think this discussion was very valuable," said Bouchard. "It
is clear from this session there are multiple
student voices with a variety of opinions.
These diverse voices must all be considered
and balanced to enhance our students' experience at UAlbany."