University Times

President Covino discusses latest scandals, student media in Open Forum

With low attendance at Open Forum, faculty and staff grill Covino over recent high-profile events

Photo by Anthony Karambelas

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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If you were up at all last Monday, you could tell it was unusually brisk and cloudy. Yet the Music Hall on campus couldn’t have been more heated and that is bound to happen when you have a forum with the University President, William Covino.

The recent allegation of segregated housing at Cal State LA is a prime example of the detriments of miscommunication. So what better way to talk it out than by having an open discussion?

The Open Forum with President Covino, open to everyone at Cal State LA, allowed attendees to ask Covino questions on any subject matter. This served several important purposes.

It helped facilitate a respectful, yet honest discourse amongst faculty, staff and students. It also served as an outlet for anyone at Cal State LA to express their anxieties about the direction the University is taking. Keeping in mind that the most powerful authority was in the room, there was a great chance that changes could be made to accommodate expressed concerns.

“When I got to Cal State LA three years ago, September 1st, for the first several weeks I talked with everybody. And I just felt like it’s time to do that again,” said Covino.

Among the many professors and staff members who attended, a few spoke up to question actions stemming from the Office of the President.

Dr. Henry Mendell, professor of philosophy, kicked off the forum by bringing up three important issues. First, he objected to the 4-4 teaching load, to which Covino responded that he’d rather have individual colleges and departments possess the autonomy to make their own teaching decisions. “Well let me just say that you’re going to be losing faculty as a result of this. Maybe that’s fine with you,” said Mendell.

He also announced his disapproval of the free speech violations, as a result of the Sex Toys ‘R’ Us and Ben Shapiro affairs. “I look on these two incidents as deeply disturbing,” Mendell said. Covino defended himself, reminding that both events took place in due course.

Dr. Kevin Baaske, professor of Communication Studies and 2016 Outstanding Professor, entered to defend Mendell, saying, “There seemed to be occasions on this campus when communication is not as productive as it might be when there are incidents.”

Mendell ended by condemning the lack of healthy food options on campus, paying particular attention to the cafes on campus.

“What’s in the library looks more like the checkout line at Fry’s Electronics. It’s not a cafe; it’s a candy store, which just happens to sell coffee,” Mendell said. “There are questions of just healthy food on campus. Why is it that everything is filled with salt? Why is it that the Chinese food is so terrible?”

Throughout the forum, faculty continued to raise important concerns. Some highlights included Dr. Suzanne Regan, professor of TVF, defending the University Times and bringing awareness to a serious flaw within the Public Relations office. “These people are wonderful. They love this campus. Why are all the people who work for this campus being told, ‘do not talk to the Times’?”

“We have found out from an email from the provost that anyone on campus has ten days to respond to the University Times, which is a three week delay in covering the news. They’re trying to shut us down. They are trying to say you are not going to get anything newsworthy about your own campus, for which you are paying tuition and which you have been so proud of for so long,” Regan added.

Dr. Theresa Larkin, professor of Theater Arts, brought up the serious but often ignored issue of bullying on campus. She considered the upper administration “really incompetent to act. And that’s not a mean-spirited statement, it’s a U.S. constitutional statement.”

All in all, the President’s Forum was an overwhelming success, bringing underemphasized problems and concerns to the forefront and stirring lively and productive conversation.

Matthew Gonzalez, fourth year Communications major, was dissatisfied with the attendance. He claimed the forum would have been more effective with increased student participation. This, Gonzalez added, would have allowed for a more thoughtful discussion, representative of the student body.

“Besides a student reporter and myself, we were the only students present. There was no talk about the long lines at financial aid or any of the other problems that have occurred with the semester change.”

In response to how he felt Covino was answering questions by those in attendance, he said, “Covino was robotic, almost feeling like he had rehearsed his responses before the forum.”

Attempts were made to contact Covino for his feedback, but proved unsuccessful.

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1 Comment

One Response to “President Covino discusses latest scandals, student media in Open Forum”

  1. Nancy on September 21st, 2016 12:49 am

    Wow. I had no idea this had occurred.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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