Ohio University President Roderick McDavis told Graduate Student Senate members Tuesday evening that he “did not have all the answers” to their questions about diversity and hate speech, transportation and graduate students’ financial troubles.
However, McDavis began addressing the questions he could answer as he first commented on the school’s response to the graffiti wall images from September.
“While I’m all about freedom of speech, some of the things that appeared on the wall were right on the border of totally offensive,” McDavis said.
He said GSS as a whole should create solutions to the problems that resulted from the images and said he will “gladly partner” with GSS, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the vice president and provost to make the campus a more welcoming, safe place for students.
McDavis also said administration is aware that graduate students have low incomes because the law limits them from working more than 20 hours per week. He said the university tries to be transparent with the cost of mandatory fees, such as the graduate fee, when sending out offer letters to prospective students.
“If there are letters that fail to make this statement, let us know about it and we’ll make the change,” McDavis said.
He added, although the fees are not ideal, “context is important” when looking at the overall financial picture for graduate students.
GSS members also asked McDavis if the university has thought of solutions to alleviate student parking congestion on campus, to which McDavis responded that the basement of Clippinger Lab as well as other spaces on campus will be converted into parking garages to make room for 380 additional parking spaces.
“But we don’t want to sacrifice a lot of that green space for parking, or for buildings either,” McDavis said.
Administration will try to refrain from paving over many of the scenic parts of campus to ensure that the campus remains "beautiful" for pedestrians in the future, he said.
Members also asked McDavis what he thinks his presidential successor’s goals should be after his tenure ends, and he listed three points of improvement, including refurbishing buildings, making diverse students feel more welcome on campus and improving the quality of university academics as a whole.
“We are diverse, but we are not as welcoming as we need to be,” McDavis said. “We continue to look for ways to improve quality and academic excellence, but we still have a long way to go."
McDavis commended GSS for facilitating the OHIO Leaders forum, which was held prior to the body meeting and commemorated former Ohio Senator and 1958 OU alumnus George Voinovich, who died June 12. The forum featured guests Cara Dingus Brook, Greg Browning and David Wilhelm, all of whom were connected to Voinovich in either a professional or academic capacity.
In addition to answering members’ questions regarding the challenges leaders face and what it means to be a leader, the speakers shared their memories of Voinovich.
“As a Democrat, I have the highest possible regard for Senator Voinovich,” Wilhelm, chief strategy officer of Hecate Energy, said. “I am proud to represent him as co-chair of the school that bears his name.”
Later in the meeting, GSS voted to table a resolution that would solidify its stance on open forums for OU's presidential search and will come up with an official statement at the body's next meeting, Nov. 16.
“Ohio University needs to have these forums happen in order to ensure the success of the search,” GSS President Ian Armstrong said.
GSS concluded with a motion to put off discussion of various budget allocations to the next and final meeting of the year.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the status of a resolution. The article has been updated to show the most accurate information.