RHA Town Hall Meeting
Canisius held its first town hall meeting for the Residence Hall Association (RHA) in seven years. They discussed clubs and other organizations, housing, the fee for unvaccinated students in the fall and the parking lot by the Science Hall.
There were five administrators on the panel at the town hall meeting: Sandra Estanek, Jason Francey, Mark Piatkowski, Kevin Smith and Mary Koehnke. The two moderators that facilitated the meeting were Rami Daham and Jahare Hudson.
According to Director of Student Engagement Francey, Student Engagement is working over the summer to transition Canisius to a new software which will streamline Student Engagement activities across campus. The new system allows them to ease the event reservation process for clubs and organizations and have an event calendar to see what is happening on Canisius. The calendar will then be accessible through rooms in the residence halls, similar to hotel channels. Student Engagement will also be resurrecting leadership development on campus with a leadership program that begins in the fall, a leadership conference for students, a leadership retreat for students in October and by bringing more naturally recognized leaders to campus to do speeches.
Francey also mentioned that first-year students this summer will be able to fill out an “involvement survey” to match them with clubs and organizations they might be interested in around campus. This also gives students the opportunity to express interest in an activity that Canisius may not offer, where they can then go to Francey and discuss if there is a club they would like to start for services that are currently unavailable at Canisius.
Associate Director of Student Life Piatkowski said that next year, Student Life is looking into reverting back to charging students in freshman residence halls extra to live in a single room. As a reaction to COVID, for the last two years it has cost the same amount to live in a double or single room, but Piatkowski explained that charges will now be returning to pre-COVID levels. Piatkowski said, “This year that will change, and the hope will be that more students would now be living with other individuals and having a roommate which could foster some friendships, some connections and more interactions, where groups of people are going to clubs, organizations and activities, compared to now where many freshmen right now are living in singles.”
When the administrators were asked about why unvaccinated students had to pay $250 for routine COVID-19 tests when they had mandated health insurance that could’ve provided free testing with an off-campus clinic supplemented with test records sent to Student Health, Estanek replied: “The college has made it clear from the very beginning that its expectation was that all students be vaccinated. But it allowed for the fact that some students, for a variety of reasons, either could not or would choose not to be vaccinated. The insurance did not cover the cost of us putting a program on campus and purchasing all the tests.” One student did not particularly feel that this response fully answered the question, so when it came time for students to ask questions, he asked why he had to pay the fee when he had his own health insurance that covered testing. Estanek replied that it was a “user fee” and laughed.
The administrators were asked for updates about the parking situation; Estanek answered by mentioning how the parking lot by Science Hall cannot be torn down without first removing the asbestos which is an expensive procedure, costing $1.5 million. The asbestos has been removed as of the beginning of winter, and the new plan is to have a surface lot built in the parking lot's old spot. Estanek also mentioned that the expectation is for half of the surface lot to be finished by the fall of 2022.