Greek life restrictions, new leadership, budget cutbacks affect campus this year

Greek life restrictions, new leadership, budget cutbacks affect campus this year

From new administrators to new dormitories, differences both large and small made this academic year one of constant change. Changes in MU leadership, funding and student life and services included the welcoming of a new system president and chancellor, as well as new policies regarding Greek life in response to controversy.

Greek Life

On Sept. 5, 2017, previous Maneater reporting stated that in late July 2017, MU hired Dyad Strategies to evaluate the Office of Greek Life. The Dyad Strategies report was released on Oct. 26, 2017, and detailed a number of issues in the Greek system, including freshmen living in Greek houses, safety risks at social events, hazing and new member education, conflicts with the academic calendar and a lack of diversity and inclusion.

After the report was published, Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gary Ward created the Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Board. The board consists of 28 members, including students, faculty and alumni and will divide into five “work groups,” each focused on a different part of the Dyad Strategies report. Groups will discuss changes to the Greek system in an attempt to improve the Greek experience, especially with regard to hazing incidents like those that led three MU fraternities to close this year.

The board has already begun to make changes. At its March 5 meeting, the board published a chapter scorecard that makes information like chapter GPAs and violations available to the public. The Office of Greek Life, now called the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, will double its staff from two to four employees “to better support a community of 7,500 students,” according to an April 4 release from the Department of Student Affairs.

MU’s chapters of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and FarmHouse all had their charters revoked by their national organizations during the 2017-2018 school year after allegations of hazing.

Nine other MU IFC fraternities were accused of hazing in March, leading the Office of Greek Life to suspend all new member activities across all 29 organizations for two weeks. The Maneater reported that allegations ranged from sleep deprivation to forced consumption of alcohol during “lineups” to eating ice cream made of human semen.

New Administration

Both UM System President Mun Choi and Chancellor Alexander Cartwright are two weeks away from completing their first years in the UM System.

During his first year at MU, Cartwright introduced new programs such as the Academy of Curators Professors, Artist in Residence Program, Mizzou Innovates Program, National Research Centers and Office of Research Advancement. He also introduced a five-year plan to double funding from the federal government.

At 100 days in his position as chancellor, Cartwright announced two new scholarships: the Black and Gold Scholarship and the Border State Scholars scholarship.

Choi has given multiple president’s reports during the UM System Board of Curators meetings. In April, Choi announced the beginning of the Presidential Engagement Fellows program to share information and research between all four UM campuses.

Cartwright and Choi took administrative positions at MU during decreased enrollment and a reduction in state funding for public universities. In March, Cartwright said MU faces a $60 million budget deficit. The University of Missouri Task Force on Academic Program Analysis, Enhancement and Opportunities, formed in April 2017, recommended cutting 27 graduate programs, with options to consolidate multiple programs rather than cut them completely.

To help decrease the cost of attendance, Choi announced a system-wide initiative to use Open Educational Resources in June 2017.

Cartwright took over his position on Aug. 1, 2017, and Choi was announced UM System President on Nov. 2, 2016.

Graduate Programs Recommendation

In January, the University of Missouri Task Force on Academic Program Analysis, Enhancement and Opportunities recommended the closure, further review and/or consolidation of 27 graduate level programs.

The review of the budget began in April when Choi asked for an eight to 12 percent cut system-wide.

According to the Columbia Missourian, the task force looked at data from the student census and the Missouri Department of Higher Education, along with holding 39 meetings with members of the MU campus community. This is how the decisions for cuts were made.

Though the university is currently looking for places to save money, the task force also mentioned areas of study that they recommend increasing investment. These programs include: big data analytics, diversity and equity and inclusion, and the Teaching for Learning Center.

The deadline to make decisions about graduate program changes is May 16.

Bluford Hall

After a semester of being referred to simply as “New Hall,” MU’s newest residence hall was given an official name on Feb. 1, 2018. The UM system Board of Curators passed the name unanimously, after the Residence Hall Association passed the name Bluford Hall in 2016.

Lucile Bluford was accepted to the Missouri School of Journalism’s graduate program in 1939, but was turned away upon her arrival in Columbia because university officials were unaware that she was black. The state Supreme Court ruled in Bluford’s favor in 1941, but the journalism school shut down its graduate studies program in response to the ruling.

Bluford received an Honor Medal for Distinguished Service from the School of Journalism in 1984. Five years later, the school awarded her an honorary doctorate. Today, the university honors Bluford’s life, work and fight against racism by naming the residence hall in her name. The atrium of the building will be named after Gus T. Ridgel, the first African-American to receive a graduate degree from MU.

MU Alert

After an individual threatened suicide near campus on Oct. 18, administration updated the MU Alert system based on campus feedback.

The alert system is not automated, and each decision is based on “imminent or ongoing danger,” according to Doug Schwandt, MU Police Department Chief, in a Maneater article from the day of the threat.

The day of the incident, the Office of the Chancellor sent an email to faculty, staff and students to indicate that the campus was operating under normal conditions. Chancellor Cartwright asked for feedback about the incident.

The following day, Cartwright authored an email stating that MU Alert system would be available for anyone, not just students. Additionally, the Office of the Chancellor said he would meet with campus groups such as the Missouri Students Association, Campus Safety Committee and the Staff Advisory Council to get feedback. Cartwright said in the email that MU would develop a policy on class attendance during emergency situations, evaluate and improve community training and conduct training and emergency drills for each building on campus.

In early March, MU displayed posters demonstrating how to run, hide or fight in the case of an active shooter. Students also received an email from the Office of the Chancellor that included videos depicting how to survive an active shooter, along with written instructions based on different scenarios. This was sent out in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

MU Alert was created in 2009. According to its website, MU Alert is a tool “used during emergencies and dangerous situations that threaten the health and safety of the campus community.” Notifications for MU Alerts can be received via email, text, MU-owned desktops (only during immediate safety threats), beacon alerts located inside buildings and the MU Alert website. MU Alert is also available on Twitter. Text “Follow MUAlert” to 40404 to receive tweets from the MU Alert page.

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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