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Q&A with Pfeiffer forges stronger connection to student wishes

Miles Kovarik, staff writer

For all of you who could not make it out to President Sandy Pfeiffer’s Thursday Oct. 30, discussion with students, here is an update on some of the issues discussed.

Student Caucus orchestrated the event, which took place at Sage Café. According to Co-Convener junior Gideon Burdick, Student Caucus is planning for more speakers, such as Sandy Pfeiffer, to attend meetings, which take place every Tuesday night at 6:15 p.m.

The first question of the night was concerning higher tuition. Senior Katie Miller began the questioning.

“Can we put more emphasis on financial aid for the current students?” Miller asked.

Pfeiffer explained the College’s plans on creating more scholarships for students. He said the short-term goal is an increase in the percentage of the budget that comes from tuition that goes towards financial aid. The long-term goal, Pfeiffer said, is to increase the amount of endowment money to create more scholarships.

Another question addressed the lack of student crews working with outside contractors on jobs that are on campus. This student was referring to the new building that Landscaping has built since Bryson gym (their original workplace) collapsed.

“If we need something to be done quickly we need it to be done from outside sources,” Pfeiffer said.

Questions about work crews became one of the crucial focuses of the Q & A after this point in the meeting. Criticism of the work program came up, and people started to relate their ideas of how the program might improve. When more criticism came up about the work crews, Pfeiffer shared his vision of how the work program may improve efficiency as well as the effectiveness of teaching students skills.

“I am interested in increasing the number of guild related work crews,” he said, referencing to crews like the Blacksmith shop.

Pfeiffer’s idea is that guild related work crews could bring income to the school and provide students a chance to become involved in interesting skills. He also explained that the Work Program is on the top of Vice President of Finance Jonathan Ehrlich’s list to evaluate.

Sophomore Cody Goss inquired about how the school deals with negative teacher evaluations, refering to unproductive class time.

Pfeiffer answered her question by saying that student evaluations of teachers matter. He also explained that students who are having trouble with classes can write a note directly to the teacher or to the deans in order to get help to make the classes more enjoyable and effective.

“I’ve been hearing ‘sustainable’ yet we still pursue sustainability through capitalist means by buying into markets outside of Wilson, such as Green Life. If we have the materials to make our own cabinets or to make our own soap why don’t we do it?” Junior Kevin Moody asked.

The audience proceeded to bounce ideas off of one another about how Wilson can become more sustainable. Pfeiffer was interested in making the campus more sustainable, and he was especially interested in methods, such as, producing student made soap on campus.

“When is Bryson Gym going to be rebuilt? I miss rock climbing,” a student asked.

Pfeiffer’s projection about Bryson Gym was that it was going to be in working condition in January or February. He added that there were going to be improvements to the gym. There is going to be a “Band Shell” facing Warren Wilson College road. A “band shell is a structure for bands to play on which sound is amplified. What is a band shell?~AM

One of the final questions was asked about the type of students Pfeiffer prefers to attract to Warren Wilson in the future.

Pfeiffer replied, “I want independent-minded students with an increased focus on the academic side of college.”

Pfeiffer then asked this question to the audience: “What do you all think about the new five year program?” He was referring to the education program that allows students to stay an extra year at Wilson to gain credentials for teaching.

Those in attendance did not directly answer his question before the discussion moved to the next topic.
Pfeiffer also explained his interest in communicating with the student body.

“The more we can get together means less gossip and rumors will get inflammatory or out of hand,” he said.

Burdick closed the discussion and predicted that the next student-president discussion would be at a Student Caucus meeting.

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