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To the Editor,

In response to the lead editorial in your Feb. 17 paper, to say that The Acorn should not be criticized for the previous week’s editorial because the figures cited therein were accurately attributed seems to suggest a lack of appreciation for the difference between the opinion and news sections.

A news story should accurately report on what happened. In that respect, getting the quote right and providing proper attribution are key.

But an editorial presumably exists to make a point. If the argument is sound, people will listen. But when it is built on incorrect information–regardless of the source–the conclusion is undermined.

If The Acorn is interested in being influential, I’d encourage it to double check its facts before building its case.

Dave Muha

Chief Communications Officer

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Dear Editor,

I’d like to take this opportunity to provide greater detail on why and how the decision was made to not host a spring concert. Over the last few months, UPB and Student Activities have considered a list of potential performers.

After much discussion they decided that rather than bring a lesser known artist, which in the past has resulted in lower attendance, they would instead pool their budget for two years.

This plan will allow them to afford a more popular artist with greater community support. The decision was not a result of a budget cut but rather a conscious effort at maximizing existing funds. Campus Life and Student Affairs is committed to supporting events that students look forward to every year and that serve to bring the campus together. There will definitely be live music at FAP.

UPB is planning to extend the hours of FAP and to make it a more campus wide event as it was in the past. Additionally, the Office of Residence Life, Student Activities and WMNJ are discussing hosting a Battle of the Bands during Sloppy Saturday.

 

Sara Waldron, Dean of Campus Life and Student Affairs

Feb. 14, 2012

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To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing in response to the Lead Editorial published in the Jan. 27 issue of The Acorn, specifically the section devoted to complaints regarding the ongoing Ehinger Center construction and how it has affected campus life this year.

As a former [Univeristy Center] Desk employee, I am the first to express frustration at the temporary closure of the building.

While the Student Activities staff has been gracious in making hours available to its student employees to make up for the disappearance of the desk, the number of hours that the other desk attendants and I can work has been limited by the lack of the UC Desk.

That being said, having worked at the UC Desk more than 15 hours some weeks.

I’ve interacted with a lot of Drew students and been at the receiving end of countless complaints about the state of the former UC.

More people than not had a lot to say about how ugly or outdated they felt that building was and about what they thought it lacked. Clearly the university agreed that it was time for a change.

But change of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight.

We’re incredibly lucky that the building will be reopened as soon as it will—there are elementary, middle and high school students all over the country who attend classes in unsafe buildings because their districts cannot afford to renovate.

At Drew, we are exceptionally fortunate —our school has the ability to modernize an outdated building (one devoted to student life, no less) in a year thanks to donor generosity.

Complaining about the mild inconvenience of the temporarily-relocated Snack Bar and ATM demonstrates at best immaturity and at worst a profound sense of entitlement.

Furthermore, campus programming has not stopped since the beginning of the EC construction.

In fact, Student Activities, Residence Life, and campus organizations have put in extra effort this year to ensure that there are still events and programs on campus.

If a student doesn’t feel like walking a little further across campus to get to these events, that is his or her own problem and not the fault of those people who planned the event.

It is time that students stop worrying and complaining about whether or not annual events are still going to happenand trust that the people who work to put them together will figure out a way to make do with the current situation.

Who said anything about the class of 2012 having to “miss out on the typical festivities of senior week,” anyway?

We cannot simultaneously have both a beautiful new building and a perfect setup of on-campus amenities while that building is constructed.

Yes, it is unfortunate that members of the class of 2012 will not experience the new Ehinger Center as Drew students, but that is nothing more than an accident of timing.

I, at least, hope to remember Drew as a place where students feel a sense of gratitude for what they have been given and not a place where they find everything completely unacceptable.

Sincerely,

Maeve Olney, CLA 2013

Jan. 30, 2012

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¬¬¬¬ To the Editors:

I thank the editors of the Acorn for the invitation to respond to last week’s lead editorial. Given that my responsibilities primarily include oversight of academic programs in the College, I will focus on those issues raised in the editorial.

The editorial suggests that the faculty has not grown along with the student body, so that our “once celebrated student-to-faculty ratio is not what it once was.” Not true.In fact, our student/faculty ratio has held steady at 11:1 for many years and has actually improved to 10:1 this year.

The ratio improved this year because we have fewer students overall and because wehired more new full-time faculty this past year than in any year in anyone’s recent memory. As for class size, I pointed out to an Acorn reporter a couple of weeks ago that the biggest staffing change I have overseen over the past few years has been an attempt to utilize our resources more efficiently. We have sought especially to reduce the number of courses run with six or fewer students.

We still offer quite a few courses that small, most notably when they are required to serve majors with low enrollments. Not only do we continue to run these very small courses when necessary, but nearly three-quarters of our courses are still serving fewer than 20 students, a figure that is on par with other elite liberal arts colleges (most of which have far ampler resources than we have at Drew).

I would suggest that what the AAUP consultant described as a “subtle shift in class sizes” is not an entirely bad thing, since we have arguably in the past wasted resources that could have been put to better use by serving a greater number of students in popular majors. This is not to say we want to run a lot of large classes at Drew.

The consultant’s own slide on class size shows that we in fact run fewer classes with 40 or more students now than we did in 2004, and the reality is that we don’t even have classrooms to accommodate many more large classes than we already run.

In addition, the consultant fails to note that during the period reviewed, the College went from a total of 356 fall semester courses to a total of 416 fall semester courses, an increase of 17 percent, when enrollment only increased by 7 percent in the same period.

What’s more, while 71 percent of fall 2004 classes enrolled 19 or fewer students, 72 percent of fall 2011 courses enrolled 19 or fewer students. In the end, my goal is very simple: to ensure that we offer the widest array of curricular options possible, while preserving the hallmark qualities of a Drew education, which include predominantly small classes with full-time faculty who are able to work closely with students as teachers, advisors, and mentors.

Given the impact of the faltering economy over the past few years, both nation-wide and at Drew, I think we have done an outstanding job maintaining the quality of the educational experience at Drew.

As for consulting with students, I will only note that it has been my genuine pleasure to work over the past few years with several student groups such as the President’s Task Force on Campus Life and the Academic Affairs committee of the Student Government.

Working together, we have sought to identify strengths and weaknesses in our academic programs, looking to find ways to enhance the academic experience (as well as the campus life experience) at Drew.

As ever, I continue to be willing to sit down with any individual or group at any time to talk about strategies to ensure that we continue to offer the best possible educational opportunities to the greatest number of present and future Drew students.

What’s more, like most students, I also walk across campus most days to get to and from Brothers College, and I’m always happy to chat on the path. Just introduce yourself and start talking. Students do from time to time, and I always enjoy the conversation.

Jonathan Levin

Feb. 13, 2012

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Dear Editor,

I’m an alum from ‘03, and I wanted to commend you for taking a look at Drew’s debt as it pertains to student loans.

However, I would love it if you could dig deeper. People have been asking why Drew’s tuition is so high for years without substantial results.

I would direct you to guidestar.org, where you can take a look at Drew’s IRS filings for yourself. They tell a pretty clear story—especially the 2008 filing—about where much of the University’s actual debt comes from, and where much of the school’s operating expenses are actually allocated.

I think you have an opportunity to develop a great narrative if you put the debt problem, including tuition, senior staff changes, alumni donations, etc., in context over the past decade or so. In reality, the source of the debt problems are much older.

There is no smoking gun problem in the numbers, but I’m certain a good analysis would be of great interest to yourself, the students and many alumni.

Hope this proves helpful to you.

Sincerely,

Mike Smullen (C’03)

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