SGB and Public Safety encourage students to speak out for shuttle change

By Chelsea Williams

Many on and off-campus students who use the shuttle told Student Government Board and Public Safety that they are frustrated with the shuttle’s GPS tracking system and reliability.

SGB is no stranger to shuttles concerns. Just recently it worked with Public Safety to enable a trial run of a new app that allows students faster and more up-to-date access to shuttle tracking. DoubleMap, the app that SGB had put into use, does allow student to track with ease, although it does not fix all the issues that some students are having.

Shuttle services, which are provided by Bieber Bus Tours, have GPS installed in the buses, allowing students to track the bus’s arrival and its entire route. However it is not the tracking app that students are frustrated with.

Even with the improvements by SGB, some students are fed up with the unreliability of the buses.

“Sometimes we look at the tracking app and it just says ‘no bus on route,’ which could mean it’s broken down or they are using one of the buses that doesn’t have GPS installed,” said Ryan Murphy, an on- campus sophomore.

Waiting at a bus stop, some students do not know whether to start walking or wait in hopes of a bus coming soon.

Many students are left wondering why there are no backup buses with GPS installed, or why there is not enough money to fix the frequently broken-down buses.

According to the university’s website, every full-time student pays a $35 transportation fee for shuttle services.

KU’s public safety director, Anne Reel, explains that the money collected from transportation fees goes solely to paying for a shuttle vender. The contracted vender now, Bieber, is signed for the next four and a half years. Reel said that when buses break down, it is Bieber’s responsibility alone to resolve the issue, but she is “in regular contact with Bieber and they are aware of our continued concerns about the shuttles being taken off-line for mechanical issues.”

Students should contact Public Safety with any concerns about the shuttle as soon as they happen, either via email, parking@kutztown.edu, or by phone at 610-683-4860.

Furthermore public safety wants students to know that they are striving to improve the shuttles service.

The SGB expressed their encouragement to have student voice their grievances at any upcoming SGB meeting next year. There will be one executive meeting held over the summer term. Students may email SGB at sgb@kutztown.edu regarding shuttle concerns to be heard at any future meetings.

One of the few at school for the summer

By Rachel Fiore

Photo courtesy of Emily Butz

Photo courtesy of Emily Butz

Zeke Montgomery, entering his senior year at KU, serves as a role model to students searching for their ideal careers through what the university has to offer.
Montgomery has grown through the organizations and clubs he is involved with, while simultaneously helping fellow students by serving the Connections community as the technical program coordinator for the summer.

New changes to Connections have affected his work. This summer was the second year of the shift from the overnight to the new one-day Connections Orientation Program. There has also been a change in management and a few positive alterations to the orientation program for transfer students.

In May and June, as the technical program coordinator, Montgomery supervised the organization’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, created insightful videos for incoming students, commanded the music for the program and spoke in front of multiple student audiences to make them feel more welcome.

“Social media is a way of building a stronger connection with incoming students. It’s our way of reminding them that we are human and we do like to have fun, too,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery served as a facilitator among a handful of other students in past Connections programs. He made the decision to join Connections because he did not think he could, and in turn, pushed himself to overcome the doubts that many students hold at one point in their college career.

When asked about Montgomery, senior Connections facilitator Jessica Morrow said, “Working with Zeke is wonderful. He handles his job in a very professional manner and always makes it clear how much he cares about his work. He will go above and beyond whenever he can, asking what else he can do on projects throughout the year. He handles his job well in every aspect possible and many people definitely look up to him.”

Along with Connections, Montgomery is head of inductions for the National Resident Hall Honorary. The organization’s purpose is to build a community within the residence halls and hold activities based on four pillars: leadership, scholastics, service and recognition.

Montgomery also serves as the housing and registration co-chair in the Central Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls and as the student staff coordinator in Berks Hall where he manages the hall’s discipline, morale and expenses.

A native of small-town Mechanicsburg, Pa., Montgomery hopes to branch out and join the Peace Corps or go into student affairs.

“I’ve peaked with what Kutztown can give to me so now it’s about giving back and making Kutztown a better place before I leave. I’ve learned that if you want to do something, just go out and do it,” said Montgomery.

Residence Hall Association tackles visitation policy

By Emily Mattis

A Residence Hall Association committee is working with the Housing and Residence Life office to change the visitation policy in the residence halls.

The current policy leaves students and student employees with different interpretations of what the policy actually means. The Residence Life Advisory Team committee advised the Housing and Residence Life office to remove the policy on first-year visitation, which would make all students in the residence halls under one policy.

RHA’s executive board started the semester wanting to do something memorable. It formed the RELATE committee to tackle problems within the residence halls and find better solutions for them.

Brianna Berry, President of RHA and the chair of this new committee, along with other committee members made a list of possible challenges in the residence hall and had an overwhelming response from the RHA general board to draft a change to the visitation policy in the halls.

The committee met each week and read through the current visitation policy along with several examples from other state schools before drafting ideas for change.

Although RELATE has submitted their idea to Housing and Residence Life for further discussion, Berry is unsure of when the changes could occur. If this policy would take effect, first-year students who would currently be unable to have overnight visitation on weeknights–Monday through Thursday–and have limited visitation on the weekends would be able to have unlimited visitation like upperclassmen.

With the suggested new visitation policy, first-year students would have the same visitation policy as the upperclassmen, making all the residents under one policy: unlimited visitation for the whole week. All students could have up to three visitors at a time for a three day period in a week.

Students complained that the policy was too difficult to understand while student employees all had different interpretations of the policy.

“I understand that they don’t want us to get in trouble, but at the same time they say we are adults and that we should take responsibility for our actions. Then they give us all these limitations. We’re adults so they should treat us like it,” said freshman Jennica LeClers.

When asked about her opinion on the current visitation policy, Kristi Shorter, a senior desk receptionist in Beck Hall said, “I stand by it. Some people say it’s too strict, but I think it helps keep people safe.”

There are still a few changes being made and the committee has been working with the Housing and Residence Life office on solidifying the changes that could possibly be implemented next year or not at all.

Education students struggle to find observation time in wake of ELC closure

By Diana Minogue

For up-and-coming teachers from KU’s Education program, classroom observation is a cornerstone of their preparation for the field. With the closing of the Early Learning Center due to budget cutbacks three years ago, it is becoming more difficult to find a classroom that offers both quality and convenience for a busy college student’s schedule.

“I just get my hours done at home over spring break,” said Savannah Kelly, a sophomore education major and aspiring middle school math and English teacher. She completes her observations at schools near her home, although she admits it would be easier to find an opportunity closer to KU.
“It’s difficult because by the time I’m done with class, they’re also done with school,” she said. “I’d have to skip class to do my observation hours.”

Kelly is not alone in her struggles. For a lot of students, “transportation is a factor,” said junior Kelsey Showers. Showers is a special and elementary education teacher, specializing in vision impairment. She expresses how difficult it can be to find a school that will allow students to observe in the classroom – especially last minute, when limited spots fill up quickly.

“They only want so many at a time…so a lot of times, you can’t get in,” she said.

It was not always this way. Those looking to gain classroom experience before graduation once had the opportunity right on Kutztown’s campus. The college’s Early Learning Center, a lab school located in the back of the Rickenbach Learning Center, gave students a chance and a setting to complete their observation hours without the added worry of transportation or scheduling concerns. Beginning as a site for young children to attend school and an opportunity for education students to observe in the classroom as part of their training, the program provided a service to children of teachers, students and community members alike, until it was cut only a few years ago due to budgetary concerns.

The Early Learning Center’s primary goal was to “provide a model site for education students to learn how to be good teachers,” according to Professor Tracy Keyes, one of two former teachers at the Early Learning Center.

“The lab school served three purposes: to provide research, to train future teachers, and to educate students,” she said.

Keyes has been teaching at KU for 15 years and has seen the Early Learning Center go through two rounds of cutting. In the 1960s, the school encompassed kindergarten through sixth grade students, later adding pre-K. By the 1980s, it had downsized to only pre-K and kindergarten, with close to 40 students when Keyes arrived in 1999.

“They threatened to close the center before,” she said. “It was always a budgetary issue…There is some thought that it was a space issue, too.”

According to Keyes, the “uproar” from parents and members of the Kutztown community moved the university to reconsider this cut and to grant the school a “reprieve” back in 2007. In 2010, however, facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit, the administration decided to end funding to the school, and it was officially closed the following spring. The building space was converted to classrooms, the playground leveled and students were left to scour the community for observation opportunities elsewhere.

Although this move could potentially save $130,000 in operating costs, it does remove one of the largest draws to education majors at the university.
“It’s a shame,” Keyes said. “The ELC was never meant to make money. It was a service to the students.”

She expresses sadness that students have lost this component to their training, one that provided them with over 4,000 observation hours each year.

For Keyes, the biggest issue is quality, when so many schools are what she describes as “mediocre.”

“They need the chance to see what high-quality education looks like, so they can use it in their own practice,” she said.

With enrollment down across the PASSHE system, belt-tightening is a must, and KU’s nursing, theatre and now education programs have all felt the financial cutback. While Keyes and other faculty do their best to assist students in locating observation opportunities, they have accepted that on-campus classrooms are no longer an option.

The administration has its hands tied with funds too sparse to maintain the ELC at its former caliber. It is unlikely that the system will return to KU.

“I think that ship has sailed,” Keyes said. “It’s a lot harder for our students to complete those requirements.”

Because the university has had to allocate these funds elsewhere, she doubts that it will look for new alternatives for its students.

“Now they’re on their own,” she said.

The face behind KU recruitment

By Daniel Makauskas

Bret Shambo, 24, has been a lead manager in Kutztown University’s Telecounseling Program since its inception two years ago. KU’s admissions department created the program to address the growing enrollment and retention issues at the university.

Shambo plays a key role in managing the students who make phone calls and helping high school seniors get their first taste of KU. Thanks to Shambo’s leadership and efforts, Telecounseling has quickly grown from a project into a fully established program.

Bret Shambo Dan Makuaskas, The Keystone

Bret Shambo
Dan Makuaskas, The Keystone

With the end of the academic year, the Telecounseling Program made a high volume of calls to recruit the high school seniors who still have not decided their academic future. Whether the potential student says “yes” or “no” to attending KU, these calls still provide information that the university can use to plan housing, dining and academic arrangements for the upcoming year.

In his first year of graduate school at KU, Shambo was recognized as a “student leader” on campus and was asked to join the, then experimental, Telecounseling Project. He thought it was a great opportunity and immediately accepted.

Shambo manages a team of over 15 telecounselors who work five days a week on the fifth floor of Old Main. These students are using a very advanced computer program to keep record of all the calls called “Velocify.”

When asked what she thought of working in the vacant fifth floor of Old Main, sophomore telecounselor Kelsey Hanlon said, “I think it’s a little creepy up there, but it is quiet and peaceful. It’s a great environment to get work done and make calls!”

Whether or not the telecounselors find the Old Main to be “creepy,” they have nothing but positive words for Shambo.

Junior telecounselor Samantha Dornauer said, “I love working with Bret. He is a very efficient and knowledgeable manager. He really helps to keep this program thriving.”

Shambo is originally from Catasauqua, Pa. and even though he did not always want to work with students, he is currently in KU’s graduate program majoring in Student Affairs.

Shambo said that he originally came to KU because it was “cheap and close to home.” After Shambo switched his major from communication design to sociology in his sophomore year, he realized that he had always wanted to work with people.

Shortly after switching to sociology, he applied for the KU Connections Orientation Program. His love for student affairs almost instantaneously developed while working with Connections because he was able to work with new students and help them get their first taste of the university. Connections became the driving force that inspired Shambo to enroll in the Student Affairs graduate program.

Shambo uses a lot of his experiences from Connections to mentor and manage his team of telecounselors.

“My favorite part of this job is giving students their first positive experience at Kutztown,” he said.

He also believes “Kutztown is on the right track toward improving life on campus for first year students and the university as a whole.”

Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto named Acting President at Kutztown University

20140602-123321-45201230.jpgDr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto has been named acting president of Kutztown University by the institution’s Council of Trustees, effective July 1, 2014.

Vargas will step in for Dr. F. Javier Cevallos, who will become the president at Framingham State in July. Cevallos has been KU’s president since 2002.

Vargas’ appointment follows Kutztown University’s succession plan for acting president. He is currently KU’s provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, and has been the school’s chief academic officer since 2006.

“We are extremely pleased to have Carlos Vargas accept the role of acting president at Kutztown University,” said John Wabby, chair of the Kutztown University Council of Trustees. “Dr. Vargas brings a wealth of experience to the position, as well as outstanding institutional knowledge. We have full confidence in his ability to continue the level of excellence and leadership Dr. Cevallos brought to KU the past 12 years.”

Vargas came to Kutztown from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs since November 2003. Prior to that, he served in several roles at Kent State University (Ohio) for a total of 18 years. From 2000 until 2003, he was the director of the program on electron beam technology. He was also Kent’s associate dean for research from 2001 until 2002. He served as interim assistant dean for research from 1998 until 2000. From 1996 until 1998, he was appointed interim assistant dean for the School of Technology. He started his tenure at Kent State in 1985 as a professor, and continued to teach until his departure from the university.

“I am honored to be asked to serve as Kutztown University’s acting president,” Vargas said. “I look forward to continue working with our talented faculty and staff in maintaining excellent service to our students and the community.”

Vargas-Aburto began his career in higher-education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), from which he received his Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1971. He was the university’s senior associate researcher for the Institute of Geophysics from 1978 until 1980, and held the same role for UNAM’s Institute of Physics from 1980 until 1984.

Vargas-Aburto earned his Ph.D. in physics and aerospace science from the University of Michigan in 1978. He has Master of Science degrees from Michigan in physics (1975) and aerospace science (1974).

Kutztown University has started a national search for a permanent replacement for Cevallos in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Merchant Marine veterans possibly denied benefits, status

By Mike Lado

A 2011 article appearing on Oregon Live entitled “Merchant Marine veterans of World War II still waiting for full compensation decades later” by Mike Francis tells the story of the United States Merchant Marine during World War II. The United States Merchant Marine is a group of American flagged, civilian-crewed vessels that played a critical role as an auxiliary of the Navy in the war by transporting much needed war supplies and equipment to Allied forces overseas.

Merchant Mariners’ vessels were often attacked and sunk by German submarines. 5,638 merchant seamen and officers were killed or went missing in the war, according to Francis. An additional 581 men were taken prisoner. After the war, Merchant Marine veterans were denied veterans status and left out of the GI Bill and loan programs that benefited veterans from the Armed Forces. Continue reading