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Town Hall Meeting: Big Changes at LIU

By Alex Billington
Staff writer

With rumors of major changes coming to LIU Post within the next six months, the semester’s first Town Hall meeting, held by the Student Government Association (SGA), was a necessity, both to dispel and clarify all the speculations.

SGA with Dr. Jackie Nealon and Dr. Abby Van Vlerah. By Kiara Braithwaite
SGA with Dr. Jackie Nealon and Dr. Abby Van Vlerah. By Kiara Braithwaite

The Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13, was an open forum, which allowed Dr. Jackie Nealon, the university’s new chief of Staff; Dr. Abby Van Vlerah, the new dean of Students; and Alerie Tirsch, the director of Student Life, to answer questions from attending students about a wide range of topics, such as campus life and the rumored changes.

There have already been some big changes since the new President, Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, took charge of LIU on July 1, including the opening of a new student run clothing store and the restructuring of certain administrative areas of the school, including Admissions and Academic Advisement.

On the subject of rumors, Nealon quickly squashed the question that a Shake Shack was coming to the campus.

There has also been an overwhelming worry around campus that tuition would be raised, which could mean added financial strain for many students. However, Nealon stated that Cline has promised no more than a two percent increase in tuition until 2020, compared to the average of over six percent.

The Apple Store that is rumored to be opening in Hillwood is not going to be an Apple store. However, it will be a tech store that is licensed to sell Apple products, a rare affiliation that only a few academic institutions can claim to have, stated Nealon.

This tech store is also going to have a tech support bar, something students can take advantage of if they are having any kind
of computer problems. The Student Art Gallery is will be possibly used as a shared space, perhaps with another student run business similar to the clothing store. The Center for Student Information (CSI) is going to be used for another purpose, possibly another student run business, but no plans are set in stone as yet, which means no more printing in CSI, something that could raise concern among commuter students who use CSI for their printing needs.

“I often use the printing facility in CSI as a quick option as I am passing through Hillwood on my way to class. I hope that there will be an alternative printing facility that is convenient,” said Andreas Olsen, a graduate Political Science major and commuter student, who attended the Town Hall meeting.

With the Gaming Room already moved to the upstairs study lounge, there was worry among students that
the Recreational room, also located upstairs in Hillwood, would be made into something else, therefore diminishing the amount of study space in Hillwood. However, Nealon assured students that there are plans to revamp the Recreational room, making it a better facility for students.

“There is already limited space for commuters to study during common hour; allocating space for this seems essential for a commuter school, ” said Kristina Renberg, a senior Public Relations major and commuter student.

An interesting discussion of proposed student run businesses for Hillwood was also held. One hundred percent of the profits from these businesses, according to Nealon, will go straight back to the students, with 50 percent going to scholarships and 50 percent to the school’s capital fund, which will be spent on other improvements for students.

For the students who live on campus, a hot topic at the Town Hall meeting was the Winnick Dining Hall, and the major question was, “Will the food change and get any better?” Van Vlerah said, “Paul Carroll, the director of operations for Aramark FoodSservices, is willing to work with students to cater to their needs. We encourage students to take to resources like the SGA food committee to help communicate what it is they want.”

Brianna Pisano, a freshman and member of SGA, who attended the meeting stated, “Dr. Nealon often reassured the students of their worries by explaining that they want to expand access to study resources and entertainment all around campus rather than just in Hillwood.”

The Town Hall meeting, which was held in the Cinema during common hour, didn’t have a large attendance. However, for students it was an interesting and necessary meeting that began to bring clarification on a range of topics.

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