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The Associated Students of the University of La Verne hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday in Morgan Auditorium, giving students the opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions regarding the state of the University.
Student questions focused on veteran student resources, parking and tuition increases.
The moderators first presented questions they received from a student forum held last month, then opened the floor for questions from the audience.
Administrators were pressed for answers when it came to services for veteran students.
“We do have to see about space (for a veterans resource center) because you know, space is critical on campus. We hear these concerns and we want to find a designated space and provide those resources,” Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs, said.
President Devorah Lieberman agreed with Rahmani about needing a resource center for veterans, but she also expressed interest in curricula that may interest student veterans.
Lieberman said the University is working on starting a physician assistant program where five seats in the program will be reserved for veteran students.
“Our physician assistant program will have seats dedicate to returning veterans wanting to be physical assistants, and when they do their rotations in the community, they will be working with returning veterans who need help,” she said.
Junior psychology major Melissa Martinez asked about the shuttle parking lot’s future once the upcoming parking structure is built.
“As soon as May 31 rolls around, we will be closing the Fairplex shuttle parking grounds,” said Clive Houston-Brown, vice president of facilities and technology. “We will remain open with the regular shuttle lot starting this summer and that lot will continue to be available to control overflowing.”
Chip West, assistant vice president of facilities and space management, addressed the ongoing conversion of gender-neutral restrooms on campus.
“We were able to identify around 36 restrooms throughout the campus that can be converted to gender-neutral,” West said. “We’ve already converted three at the College of Law. We will also look at other future facilitates where it will make sense, such as residence halls or in academic buildings.”
Senior English major Carlos Yanes suggested having more education on where tuition money goes.
He proposed having students from the College of Business and Public Management sit in meetings with Chief Financial Officer Avo Kechichian, and having those students report to ASULV, who in turn will report to the student population.
“What I want is education on how tuition affects everyone’s salaries and where the money goes,” Yanes said. “We are a Hispanic serving institution, so where does that money that we get for that specific need go?”
Kechichian explained that the Board of Trustees approved a $200 million budget for the University last year with $100 million going toward compensation for faculty and staff.
“The next big item in our budget is financial aid,” Kechichian said. “Fifty million dollars is going to go back towards our students. So 50 percent goes toward compensation and 25 percent of the budget goes toward financial aid. So what’s left is day-to-day operating expenses. Naturally we have to increase tuition in order to be able to afford these expenses.”
Kechichian continued his explanation by stressing that the University’s income is heavily reliant on student enrollment.
“The answer is simple; unfortunately we have expenses that need to be paid for,” he said. “Being an academic institution that’s very enrollment dependent, meaning the majority of revenue we generate comes from students, we have no choice but to increase tuition rates in order to maintain the operations of the University.”
Yanes continued asking about the benefits students get from the tuition increases.
“I completely understand that tuition is going to increase and that is something we are going to have to deal with, but what benefits will students get,” Yanes said. “Will students be getting more classes? Tuition is increasing every year.”
Kechichian cited increasing enrollment as a reason to provide more services to students and additional services, such as full-time faculty and administrative services, as benefits students have received.
Karla Rendon can be reached at email@example.com.