By Donovan Levine
President Kenneth Hawkinson hosted an open meeting with students on Nov. 19 in MSU 218. There were about 20 students who shuffled in and out as well as the Dean of Students, Donavan McCargo, MSU Building Director Leah Casselia and Assistant Director Amanda Garcia who sat in the lecture with the students.
At the start, Hawkinson gave a brief overview and update on KU as of this semester and what’s been going on. He touched on topics ranging from the Women’s Center’s events, to the upcoming renovation of the Pennsylvania Dutch library building for historical archives, to the Veterans’ Center’s tributes to Kutztown’s veterans, to sports accomplishments, to the university’s current budget situation.
Hawkinson was happy to report KU was able to maintain a balanced budget but at the cost of “eliminating 60 positions, cut operating budgets by 10% and increasing financial aid by $6 million.”
Hawkinson’s biggest concern is the enrollment numbers this past year. Enrollment for KU has gone down by 200 students after having an even enrollment the year prior. According to KU’s website, enrollment for the fall 2019 semester was 8,199 students—including graduate students.
“I just ask for your help as we go forward,” he said in hopes of better cooperation and synergy for next semester.
After these initial statements, a few students from the crowd had comments and questions. One attending student said, “We feel that Greek Life is struggling.” He listed many of the fundraisers and on-campus events Greek Life got involved with on a yearly basis. But according to him, the fraternities and sororities have steadily decreased in membership and, as a result, have struggled paying for and keeping their off-campus chapter houses.
“We’d be supportive to have a house near campus,” said Hawkinson. “But we do not have the resources to build new houses.”
A second student came out expressing that he wanted to make KU “seem more fun” and believes that Greek Life organizations can help increase both student enrollment and student involvement. These concerns were all received by President Hawkinson, and Leah Casselia and Donavan McCargo gave feedback, advising for special interest housing and having Greek Life volunteers on Move-In Day or Welcome Week for incoming students.
Towards the end, other students came forward and expressed concerns for certain sports teams having their budgets get cut and felt inferior to other athletic organizations because of the treatment of other teams, like the football team. The bowling team, in particular, expressed concerns after receiving budget cuts and fear that some members could lose scholarships. Hawkinson said he would try to oblige any of the needs these clubs and sports teams needed for future semesters.