Community meeting addresses campus issues

By
February 25, 2008

Amanda Berkson-Brand

The needs of parenting students, the fate of Mills eucalyptus trees and the new grievance process were all discussed at the community meeting held at night on March 3.

The meeting was held in the Student Union and included staff, faculty, students and President Janet Holmgren.

Parenting Students

Parenting students accused Mills College of providing no institutional support to them. Jamila Williams and Martha Braithwaite, both MBA students, said that the College ignores the “vital needs of parenting students,” especially on the issue of childcare.

Among their complaints were that parenting students are given no priority or discount at the children’s school, and financial aid does not include family grants.

They also said that family housing is expensive at Mills and their efforts to form a babysitting cooperation in the parenting lounge have been thwarted by insurance and liability issues.

“There is no institutional support for parenting students,” said Williams.
Braithwaite agreed. “What we really need is a strong commitment from the highest authority.”

“These are critical issues of equity and access to an education, not just cushy perks,” she added.

Dean of Student Life, Dr. Joi Lewis, responded to the accusations by citing examples of work being done for that group.
Computers were recently added to the parenting lounge after Lewis became more aware of their needs during her lunch with the parenting students on Feb. 26.

She also said that new Vice President Therese Leone would head up a task force to investigate the needs of the parenting students.

Holmgren defended the College’s efforts for parenting students but conceded that “it is challenging for Mills to offer the resources that a large public institution can offer.”

Eucalyptus Trees

Another topic of the meeting was the fate of the one thousand or so eucalyptus trees on campus.

Eucalyptus trees that are being grown in the botanical garden to replace the ones that were cut down last year, said a campus planning official.

Karen Maggio, the associate vice president of campus planning, said the baby Eucalyptus were of the siligma variety and unlike those that were removed, would not grow so large and would not self-propagate.

Despite student outcry last year, the Eucalyptus trees that lined Kapoliani road were cut down. The issue was brought up at the meeting when a student, Paula Tejera, asked the school not to remove any more eucalyptus.

“I cannot understand the destruction of so much beauty,” she said.

Maggio said there are more than a thousand of the globus variety of Eucalyptus on campus and that her office would identify and remove all the dangerous ones and replace them with native trees like oaks and redwoods.

Grievance Board

Another issue that stemmed out of last year’s meeting was an update on the grievance process. Courtney Young-Law announced that the grievance process should be in place by fall of 2008 if the College accepts the task force recommendations.

The process will have three separate grievance officers for staff, faculty and students and will give people the option of reporting in person and online.

Once a complaint is made, the officer can instigate a formal investigation or mediation, depending on the nature of the complaint.

Though the process must still be vetted – which means to evaluate -Young Law said the task force was “excited to move as quickly as we have.” campus planning official Karen Maggio, the associate vice president of Campus Planning, said the baby eucalyptus were of the Saligma variety and, unlike the Globulus variety that were removed, would not grow so large or self-propagate.

Despite student outcry last year, the eucalyptus trees that lined Kapoliani road were cut down in the summer of 2007.
The issue was brought up at the meeting when senior Paula Tejeda asked the school not to remove any more eucalyptus.

“I cannot understand the destruction of so much beauty,” she said.

Maggio said there are more than a thousand of the Globulus variety of eucalyptus on campus and that her office would identify and remove all the dangerous specimens and replace some with native trees like oaks and redwoods.

Grievance Board

Another issue that came up during last week’s meeting was an update on the proposed grievance process.

Director of Student Activities Courtney Young-Law announced that the grievance process should be in place by the fall semester of 2008 if the college accepts the task force’s recommendations.

The process will have three separate grievance officers for staff, faculty and students and will give people the option of reporting in person or online.

Once a complaint is made, the officer can instigate a formal investigation or mediation, depending on the complaint.
Though the process must still be evaluated, Young Law said the task force was “excited to move as quickly as we have.”


Community meeting addresses campus issues was published on February 25, 2008 in News

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