Petition to Southern Adventist University
Active Shooter Response
Southern Adventist University is a private college located in the small town of Collegedale, TN. Roughly 3,000 students attend classes on this fairly large campus. While there are fire drills and tornado drills, active shooters drills are not practiced. The reason being is because the school board does not see them as a necessary task and they do not want to lose education time for practice. Furthermore, the campus safety officers are not allowed to carry firearms on campus. In the even of an active shooter it would take nearly 9 minutes for a police officer to arrive. The average active shooter incident only lasts 2 minutes. Something has to be done to make this college campus better prepared. If the students have never done the drill then if an incident were to ever occur the reaction of the students wouldn't be well. Instead of knowing what to do the students would panic and only make a terrible situation worse. I am a student at Southern Adventist University. I want to be safe while I am in school. The fact is that the world that we live in isn't always safe. We need to be prepared for as many circumstances as possible. With your help hopefully we can bring this oversight into the eyes of the school board and make the much needed change.
Petition to Barnard College, Robert Goldberg, Sian Beilock, Gail Beltrone
Barnard College: Meal Price Hike? Meal Plan Strike.
**PLEASE SEE MOST RECENT UPDATE** The text of this petition has been updated to reflect statements from the administration. To COO Goldberg, President Beilock, and VP Beltrone: We, as Barnard students, are stunned and upset that, after hiking tuition prices by 4.5%, Barnard eliminated cheaper options for meal plans, forcing students to have a default minimum of $2,150 per year for a meal plan. This is absolutely outrageous and shows a total disregard for the needs of Barnard students. The increase in prices will not correlate to an improvement in food quality or sanitary conditions. It is only to line Aramark's pockets. This is the first time Barnard has changed their meal plan structure and pricing since 2010. All price hikes to meal plans before did not exceed $10. Why, then, would Barnard both raise prices in conjunction with a tuition hike while simultaneously failing to inform students of these changes? An ethical university that truly cares for its students would not change the terms of a contract after it is signed, especially when said contract was signed while students were not fully informed of the charges of the 2018-2019 school year. Barnard has no excuse for making these dramatic changes after the contract was signed, and just like students, the administration needs to be held accountable for its greedy, immoral attempt at taking more money from students without their consent. This is especially important because of the cost of the quad upper class meal plan. For many students, the price of that meal plan last year was already prohibitive. To raise the price this year without informing students before they selected housing is trapping students in a situation they cannot afford. Living in the quad as an upper class student comes with a charge for a mandatory meal plan around $5000. And because Barnard never has enough rooms for students, students living in the quad (by choice or by assignment) are paying a price for something they don't want for a dorm that is in disrepair. In other words, the increased price of this meal plan does not correlate with better food quality, sanitation standards, or a better than average living situation. Many students who chose to live in campus housing with access to their own kitchen did so to avoid eating at the dining halls, and to negate that choice by forcing them to pay for swipes is pure greed. Furthermore, it shows a total lack of awareness of how food insecurity affects students on campus. There is no justification, explanation, or statement that the administration can make to explain, in VP Beltrone's own words, a meal plan "meant to address student concerns over food insecurity" that does not guarantee two meals a day and is more expensive than ever before. Food insecurity arises because students can't afford to pay for meal plans or food in the area in the first place. In what world does making them pay more money for an unacceptable plan guaranteeing them only one meal a day help solve that problem? Students should be able to purchase a meal plan that fits their needs in a cost effective way; paying for swipes or points that will ultimately get donated is an expense many students can't afford. Though Barnard has said we can "add swipes and points as needed," nothing has been said about whether those fees would be waived for low income/financial aid students. Last year, there were several variations in the cost for meal plans offering different numbers of swipes and points that were all cheaper than this year's base cost. To properly address food insecurity on campus, Barnard must provide a meal plan that is fully covered by financial aid that feeds students not one, but TWO full meals a day. There is absolutely no reason why a student should have to take out a loan to eat at a university that costs $60k a year. Barnard has also shown a total lack of commitment to improving food quality and health conditions at its dining halls. This year, Hewitt received a B rating (14 violation points) from the Department of Health due to the presence of mice, filth flies, and improper sanitation. The Diana Center and Liz's Place also were cited for the presence of mice in or around food and a failure to properly vermin-proof their facilities. Looking back at the ratings for these dining halls the past three years, this is not a new issue--despite three years of infractions for the same sanitary problems, Barnard has taken no action to improve health standards. Understandably, many students do not wish to eat in dining halls where their food may have been contaminated by mice. Students have also filed complaints about the lack of variety in Hewitt's options as well as the quality of the food itself (search "Aramark" on Columbia Spectator for pieces regarding this topic). Forcing students to pay for pricey meal plans that will go unused also shows Barnard's ignorance to students with dietary restrictions or other special health requirements. Cross-contamination at dining halls is rampant, and for those with severe allergies, this could be life-threatening. Many students with such allergies choose to cook for themselves, yet Barnard is now insisting they pay for a meal plan that does not adequately support their health to eat in dining halls that will never truly be safe for them to eat in. Students who struggle(d) with eating disorders also have expressed discomfort in eating at dining halls and prefer the freedom cooking for themselves affords. To unnecessarily add to the cost of purchasing food that appropriately addresses different dietary needs is, at best, accidentally ignorant, and, at worst, being intentionally predatory towards vulnerable students without other options. What has happened in this instance is a stunning combination of Barnard's greed and administrative reluctance to take responsibility for their actions. And, of course, this increase in prices will not solve food insecurity, but worsen it, and will not improve food quality, offerings, and sanitation. When you demand a premium price from students already paying more than they can afford, you must show--in tangible results, NOT over vague email statements--that the product you are forcing them to buy is improving in quality or presentation. It is worth mentioning that last year, Aramark made $185 million dollars domestically. They are not wanting for money, and they are certainly more than able to improve the standards of the food they serve and the conditions their food is kept in. And because points are restricted to use on Barnard's campus, students yet again fall victim to paying for something they cannot use due to the quality and standards at Barnard's dining halls. These meal plan options serve absolutely no one and worsen an already declining quality of student life. Due to all of these factors, we the undersigned refuse to pay for or opt into a meal plan until Barnard offers cost-effective options that better address students' needs. With base tuition for the 2018-2019 school year costing, at minimum, $65,467, not including the cost of student health insurance, adding an additional $2,150 (at minimum) is absurd. These changes are a slap in the face to students facing food insecurity and all the work they have done to demand a change in their situation. Our list of demands is as such:-better swipe-to-points ratios (for example, last year's 45 meals to 425 points ratio) in MULTIPLE options, not just the Flex 30 plan-multiple meal plan options below $1000 for students who choose to cook their own meals (yes, this means more than the 400 point/flex 30 plan)-lower price of the upper class quad meal plan, especially because the increase in cost was not advertised during room selection-a meal plan covered fully by financial aid that ensures students can receive at least two meals a day from dining halls-face to face meetings with the ENTIRE student body, not those who are selected for supposed "discussions" with administrators. These meetings, whether surveys or town halls, should exist to adequately gauge current student opinions and feelings on their quality of life. Administrators must confront the consequences of their actions without hiding behind emails and closed doors.-administrators taking full responsibility for their actions and acknowledging their greed without blaming it on a vague third party--demonstrating that accountability does exist for non-students at this university-a tangible plan for improving sanitation and food quality at Barnard's dining halls, which should not be relayed through vague email statements, but as a concrete list of the steps Barnard will take that students can see happening. No more behind the scenes improvements that never go anywhere. Administrators must follow through on their promises, and they need to prove it through results we can see. We refuse to eat contaminated, unsanitary, and nutritionally devoid food any longer. We see through Barnard's motivations: these changes were not designed to benefit anyone or improve the lives of students on campus, but rather to extort more money at an already prohibitively expensive university. It is outrageous, and we will not take this lying down. We demand better, and we DESERVE better. If Barnard administrators truly care about their students, then they must prove it through demonstrative actions. We will not accept empty statements and promises; we will only accept change, and a change we can see in our time left at Barnard. In light of recent emails sent by VP Beltrone, we'd like to issue a challenge to all administrators: eat for a week at Hewitt and Diana (not Liz's Place), for every single meal. You cannot make such sweeping changes without ever having experienced the current dining situation for yourselves. If there is one thing that is made absolutely clear to you, it should be that the student body is angry, and it will not let you backtrack or slip away from your actions. We demand accountability. If you feel the sentiments of this petition are untrue, then prove us wrong. But you cannot intimidate a student body that is already so mistreated and exploited, and we will no longer allow you to get away with it. We will not back down.
Petition to PrattMWP Residence Life, Shannon Hitchcock Schantz, Donna Moran, Joella Burt
PrattMWP Housing Concern
Recently, current freshmen at PrattMWP were informed that next year, many of the incoming students would get a majority of the housing typically reserved for sophomores. We also learned that the next incoming class will be larger, and as a result, the school will begin putting more students in dorm rooms. We, the class of PrattMWP 2019, ask this: We would like the number of sophomore rooms in the Plant and Cottage dormitories for this upcoming school year to be around the same number it was this year, not drastically less. We understand that there is a concern with the connection between freshman and sophomore students, but we believe that this change will not help. Many of the few freshmen living in Cottage and Plant do not feel closer to their sophomore students than those living in Hart do. Most friend groups are based upon who we have classes with, not who we're neighbors with. We're open to any other solutions to this concern. President of the programming board, Colette Bernard, is already planning events that will help freshmen and sophomores to get to know each other. If PrattMWP is going to increase class size and put more students in rooms, we would like the option of living off campus. It is unfair for us to be forced to pay more to live in a smaller, more cramped space than it would be for us to live on our own. Putting more people in rooms will make it harder for us to be productive, and it will make it easier for illnesses to spread. The majority of colleges allow students to live off campus, and we cannot think of a good reason why we should be denied this right. We also would like to address the fact that many maintenance issues we have reported are frequently ignored and can take up to months to be fixed, such as mold in Plant, broken washer and driers in all dorms, etc. As students who pay tuition, we deserve a safe and healthy environment, and we deserve the utilities covered in our housing fees. We hope that PrattMWP can acknowledge our concerns and reason a solution with us. Many of us enjoy attending school here and we would hate to lose that enjoyment.
Petition to Southern Poverty Law Center
Designate the organization "Open Air Outreach" as a hate group
On March 29th and 30th of 2018, the Open Air Outreach (http://openairoutreach.com/) hosted a demonstration on the University of North Texas campus where they shouted hate against the Black Lives Matter Movement, Gays, Feminists, and much more. Signs read such as "BLM are racist thugs" and "Got Aids Yet". Additionally, there were many signs against Muslims saying Jesus "has a pressure cooker for every dead Muslim". Additionally, students reported hearing "It's about time someone cracked the whip", "God doesn't love you because you're brown" and at one time a member of the organization told LGBTQ students in the audience to "kill yourselves". This rhetoric clearly targets certain minority groups and forwards a Christian-white-male supremacy. These encounters seriously affected the emotional well being of the students on our campus, prompting the Dean of Students to open a Safe Space on campus and eventually to expand advertisements for on campus counselling. The event gathered huge crowds and seriously affected the well being of our students on campus. More information about this event can be found at: https://www.ntdaily.com/demonstrators-spark-student-counter-protest-in-library-mall/ . What's more, the presence of the organization's leader, Jesse Morrell, suggests his approval of these actions. If the leader of the organization condones hate speech, does that not make this a hate group? We would like the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading classifier of hate groups around the US, to investigate this organization for their deserved designation as a hate group. We believe that this would help identify them for their true nature, and make it harder for the group to secure permits and permissions in the future.
Petition to Massachusetts State House, Robert A. Deleo, Bradley Jones, Ronald Mariano, Brian Dempsey
Pass H2998 to prevent sexual assault on college campuses
Sexual assault and other forms of dating violence are epidemics on college campuses. Every academic year, between 20 and 25% of college women will experience dating or sexual violence, and another 1/3 will be subjected to sexual harassment. Despite its prevalence, 'little is known' about the factors that cause this type of violence and harassment, according to the Center for Disease Control. In 2004, a White House Task Force was convened to combat sexual violence on campuses, and recommended that a sexual assault climate survey be administered at colleges and universities across the country to correct our presumptions about sexual violence and move forward with concrete and effective policy solutions.The statistics above are why we cannot delay in passing H 2998 to establish a sexual assault climate survey at college and universities across Massachusetts. This survey is more than an assessment of the prevalence and perception of violence, identifying key demographics, gathering information about assailants, and tailoring solutions to specific campus communities - it is also a platform for victims, who are often shamed into silence, to speak out anonymously but candidly, and for students to voice their true concerns about their campus communities. The Legislature cannot let another year pass without taking action. Students, the campus community, and our state as a whole need to see government making the eradication of sexual violence on campus a priority. We ask that the House of Representatives pass H2998 during the informal session, so that work on the survey may commence immediately. Not another year can go by while those who could fix the problem of sexual assault are powerless to do so because of incomplete information. Behind those statistics are real students, looking to their representatives to take action to keep our campuses safe. Please help us make Massachusetts a leader in combating sexual assault and violence.