Do You Need Your Job?

Student Senate Meeting --- September 17, 2018

Emery Malachowski, Managing Editor

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Student Senate Meeting began at 9:00 pm on September 17th, 2018 with a Standing Order from Policy Committee. The Standing Order was proposed by Jeanette Harijanto, and “has resolved to ensure all Student Government Documents, including but not limited to, the Constitution, the General Bylaws,the Financial Bylaws, and meeting minutes be posted to GitHub.” This was explained as a move towards transparency and communication between the Senate and the General Assembly. Moving forward these will be posted by Sam Craig, Officer of Technology.

This Senate Meeting focused around the presentation and Q and A session with President James Troha on the financial state of Juniata College. Troha’s presentation comes directly after the last Senate Meeting’s questioning of Parkhurst’s pricing on meal plans and what that meant about the state of the College financially. Troha stressed the point that the difficulties that Juniata College is  going through with admissions is not exceptional. SMP and Moody’s called the situation “grim”. He repeatedly placed Juniata in the context of other private colleges in the area with similar levels of debt and tuition, and stressed Juniata’s successes.

These included fellowships that students had won, the retention and graduation rates, the second year of highly successful fundraising, and the amount of Juniata’s budget spent on staff and faculty compensation (42%). This last year Juniata raised 22.1 million dollars. The issues that Juniata is experiencing now, he explained, are affecting all colleges like ours. These issues include changing cultural philosophies around college education, a decrease in high school graduation rates, and an inability to draw in diverse populations. White high school graduates from the North East, the traditional college graduate profile, are graduating at lower rates, but students of color and students from the Western United States are continuing to graduate at higher ones. Troha says that while the diversity of the college student population has increased, the institution has not “kept up” with improvements to its policies or staff.

President Troha explained the strategies Juniata College is taking in order to keep up with these changes. He says that the College is embracing summer learning and online learning, and connecting with community colleges for further alternatives. He also emphasized new activities on campus that he believes will excite prospective students: Mock Trial and E-Sports. He described the average Juniata College graduate’s debt as being “around $40,000” in total, which he characterized as being both intimidating and normal for a private college.

The General Assembly questioned President Troha afterhis presentation was complete. There was some concern that Troha was minimizing the difficulties that students were going through by focusing on the positives, which he denied, saying that he understood the difficulties students were going through with debt. Troha also defended the lack of a normative pay raise this year,  reasoning that the retention and enrollment goals last year were not met, and that high medical costs last year contributed to the decision as well.

Troha also fielded questions from this reporter surrounding cuts to student wages. He described their cutting efforts as trying to lower the student wage budget by “several hundred thousand” and to determine which students do or do not “need” the campus jobs. When questioned on this, Troha clarifed that the jobs will not, however, be granted based solely on need, but more greatly on merit and skill. When pressed on how he came to the conclusion that students in the past did not need their jobs or their longer hours, Troha said that he has “enough information” from generally “talking to supervisors”. The students who need it or do not need it will be determined, again, through talking to supervisors, and Troha stated that he would not likely go as in depth as to check their FAFSA or documentation of need. Further research shows that out of Juniata College’s full net revenue of 51.4 million dollars, the full budget for student wages took up 1.9%