Meeting Minutes

Student Life


October 17, 2017

  1. Call to Order – Kevin Harwell

    Meeting called to order at 9:05 AM. Minutes from September approved after minor change to improve language about inspections.

  2. Major projects
    1. Student Life Committee Report on Rush:  passed at Senate Council on October 3rd and is on this afternoon’s Senate agenda.

      Student Committee Report of Rush: Approved for presentation today at Faculty Senate. Vote to approve occurred by email poll of members.

    2. Status report:  Report on dangerous drinking on college campuses.

      Report on dangerous drinking on campus. Damon Sims, Ling Rothrock and Hunter Debellis will work on written report based on past presentations by Damon Sims. Damon will send us a copy of previous report to committee. Mt Nittany ER was remodeled to address excess drinking and drug overdose issues for students. Plan to look back at several previous reports to examine trends. Plan for report in March meeting. Will be discussed at December and January meetings.

    3. Status report (Harwell) Time Management report

      Time management report. Begun last year but was not completed. Task Force eager to get back to it. What time management resources are available for all students, not just athletes. Sudarshan Nelatury will join group. Data available from Big Ten and other sources to address question.

    4. Status report:  Report re: students who have three or more midterm exams in a single day.

      This issue will be addressed jointly with the Undergraduate Education Committee.  Kevin Harwell will initiate contact.

  3. New Business
    1. DACA statement

      Ira Ropson requested consideration by SL Committee of a resolution statement relating to support for DACA students who may be facing immigration challenges, which had been drafted for the Commonwealth Caucus.  President Barron, CCSG, GPSA and UPUA had were preparing or had already issued statements.  Unfortunately, time for consideration was short.  It was decided to discuss this issue by email following the meeting.

  4. Adjournment
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    September 12, 2017

    1. Call to Order – Kevin Harwell
    2. Welcome and Introductions

    Attendance: Andrey Krasilnikov, Ling Rothrock, Kevin Reuning, Sudarshan Nelatury, Kevin Harwell, Hunter Debellis, Matthew Kurian, Damon Sims

    1. Recruit members to work on major projects
      1. Consider drafting an advisory/consultative report recommending that the administration delay rush for a sorority or fraternity until students achieve sophomore standing.Committee has been asked to write report as soon as practical. Information on academic performance shows that there is a significant decline in predicted GPA performance by male student participation in rush their first semester in College. New policy 14 credit hours before rush for those who are not transferring in or adult learners. Essentially means defer rush until Spring of first year. Concerns about filling houses for financial reasons. Have more data before deciding on full year deferment. Semester was a compromise. We have been asked to consider it. Impact of decisions on fraternities and sororities goes well beyond just their members, social gathering places beyond members.Data on graduation, graduate school admittance, etc. available, ask for anything we feel is appropriate. Exclude university sponsored activities (athletics, music, drama groups, etc.). Hazing issues across all organizations, especially Greeks. Safe harbor for underage alcohol consumption, making rush and other negative influences worse. Are statistics available for other Big 10 schools available? Deferment for semester is true for only in effect at 4 Big ten schools, none for a year. President of University would like Penn State to lead US in addressing negative Greek issues. Student leadership does not associate themselves with Greek life. Negative perception of Greeks by student body. Party school perception problem. Social life seems to revolve too much around fraternity houses. Is Greek Life council effective? Autonomous independent organizations chartered from national groups, discipline poorly managed, St. Moritz security force, we only have advisory role, security was farce and managed by council to not find problems. University Staff now monitoring Greek behaviors, unknown if it will be successful.

        Call the question: Do we want to recommend a year before rush? Disadvantage: Housing crush is significant to fill spaces for second semester freshmen and sophomores. Could close off the good that can come out of Greek groups. Administration has declared one semester for next 2 years, would like one semester deferment support from Faculty Senate. Then consider lengthening deferment after collecting data. New university office to monitor Greek behavior, unannounced inspections all the time, all violations will be noted and recorded. Not university housing, so no RA. How frequent are random checks? Past inspections from IFC were wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 9 new employees to be hired to monitor situations. Selling alcohol for tailgating, should not be allowed to sell it or sell it to minors. Arrests for this behavior by city police. More detailed statistics for fraternities for non-fraternities available. Greek Life Response Team Advisory Board is working on these issues.

      2. Draft an informational report outlining the nation-wide epidemic of dangerous drinking on college campuses. Consulting with the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA), and other nation-wide academic organizations, provide recommendations for how colleges and universities can work together to combat drug use and dangerous drinking.Address issue of drinking and drug use by students, dangerous and underage behaviors. Hunter will contact Damon to collect data. Where and when do people drink?
      3. In collaboration with the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, draft an informational “Time Management” report that could form the basis of an online guide to time management for undergraduate students. The report would mirror similar time-management materials provided to students involved in intercollegiate athletics.Kevin Harwell in charge. Has past history. Effective self-time management is goal.
      4. Jointly with Undergraduate Education, draft an informational report on best practices for aiding students who have three or more midterm exams in a single day. Consider making this a student-led report.Student led report? Elizabeth Seymour from Undergraduate Education, Mathew Kurian and Hunter Debellis will work on this.
    1. Ideas for Invited Guests: Invite THON people to talk.
    2. New Business
    3. Adjournment

    April 25, 2017

      1. Call to Order
        1. Attendance: Alex Shockley, Paul Barney, Katie Jordan, Kevin Harwell, Matthew Kaag
      2. “Opening Acts”: Today’s Act (Penn State Thespians) – We had individuals come and perform for the general meeting, Jon and Melissa, recently in the Penn State Thespian’s performance of Beauty and the Beast. Having “Opening Acts” for this year’s Senate was a great pleasure and opportunity for all faculty members to see the great work that students are doing outside of the classroom.
      3. Discussion Items for today’s meeting:
        1. Updates on the Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Task force – Recently the task force made strong headway on some overall recommendations and met with President Barron to discuss the recommendations. Recently the Chair of the task force met with the Commonwealth Caucus to discuss how smoke free/tobacco free policy could effect the respective campuses. The task force has broken into subcommittees to continue work on the recommendations and to begin finalizing the report that will be presented to President Barron by the end of the summer.
        2. Time Management Survey with Intercollegiate Athletics- Updates – The Time Management Report has been put on hold. We are hoping that either it will be accomplished over the summer to be put on the September agenda or charged to next year’s Student Life and Intercollegiate Athletics Committees.
        3. Selection of John White Graduate Fellowship Awards – Margaret and Mary helped in the selection of 5 individuals for these fellowship awards. We had over 50 individuals apply, so it was very competitive process and we congratulate this year’s recipients.
      4. New Business
        1. New Student Leadership for the upcoming Academic Year – Katie Jordan presented on the UPUA’s overall academic goals for the upcoming year. Attached is the report that student body President Katie Jordan gave.
        2. Committee Feedback and Discussion – N/A
        3. Recommendations for the Upcoming Academic Year – Comment to have continued discussion on Time Management, in addition to concern on first year student knowledge of drinking, due to recent events. There is still consideration if Faculty should have a larger role in the classroom on educating students on drinking in college and its implications. There was a recommendation that possibly the committee should write a report on this next year.
      5. Closing Comments
      6. Adjournment

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    March 14, 2017 (Rescheduled for March 21, 2017)

    Attendance: Present: Margaret Michels, Sidharth Agrawal, Alex Shockley, Kevin Harwell

    1. Call to Order
    2. “Opening Acts”: Today’s Act (Lion’s Pantry) and Final Meeting – Today, Jaden Rankin-Wahlers will be presenting on Lion’s Pantry, the on-campus food bank for students. It was determined that the last act would be from a performance group such as the Penn State Thespians, Performing Arts Council, or the No Refund Theater. Alex will reach out to these student groups to establish a set performance group.
    3. Discussion Items for today’s meeting:
      1. Conversation/Updates on the Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Task force – Alex provided a brief update on the current progress of the Task Force. He then offered a discussion question for the committee to consider: If the University were to go smoke free or tobacco free, what resources would need to be offered for faculty and staff members to assist them in this process? Both Kevin and Margaret (as faculty and staff members) agreed that it would be beneficial to provide faculty and staff the same resources that students receive. Currently, students can receive free tobacco cessation programs that are highly effective. The committee agreed that it would be best if faculty and staff were provided these resources also. Further, the importance of education was stressed. All members of the University will need to understand the situation fully before the policy would be enacted.
      2. CAPS Funding passed by the University Park Student Fee Board – Since the Student Life Committee sponsored a presentation by Dr. Ben Locke, the Director of CAPS, the committee received a quick update on how the Student Fee Board passed a $9.75 allocation per semester from each student fee to go directly to CAPS. Including the president’s contribution, this will increase the CAPS budget by approximately $840,000.
      3. Time Management Survey with Intercollegiate Athletics- Updates – Alex and Kevin are sitting on this subcommittee. They briefly updated on the progress and benchmarking that is currently occurring. Each member is charged with a different task, from exploring current research that exists on time management and stress for students to benchmarking within the Big Ten.
    4. New Business
      1. John White Graduate Fellowship Awards – Alex will be Chairing the selection and distribution of these awards. Margaret and Mary volunteered to sit on the selection committee. The selections will occur during the month of April.
      2. Special Committee on Well-Being and Safety for First Year Students, Presentation and Discussion- Patricia Koch – Patricia came and presented on the report her special committee had been preparing for the past few months. Majority of discussion was fostered around the recommendations offered in the report. Overall, the Student Life Committee was very supportive of the recommendations. The Student Life Committee recognizes the need for these changes and believe it is essential for making a more accepting and inclusive campus.
    5. Closing Comments
    6. Adjournment

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    January 24, 2017

    Meeting Cancelled due to lack of attendance: Chair Shockley’s notes

    1. Call to Order
    2. “Opening Acts”: Today’s Act, March’s Meeting, and the Final Meeting- March’s Meeting we were going to feature Neha Gupta, winner of the Children’s Peace Prize and creator of Empower Orphans. However, she got asked to travel for an interview, so she no longer can come. I will be updating the committee on who will be coming shortly. Chair Strauss suggested that for the final meeting, we select something that is high energy. This could align with a group from performing arts or possibly a selection of individuals from the Penn State Blue Band. I will be reaching out to different organizations to see where the general interest lies over the next few weeks. If you know of any great student organizations that would be great for wrapping up this year’s Senate, please reach out to me.
    3. Discussion Items for today’s meeting:
      1. Conversation on the Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Task force- The task force was announced last week has officially begun to meet. Renee Borromeo, Chair of Faculty Benefits, sits on the task force, in addition to myself. The task force is comprised of individuals that represent all aspects of Penn State, including students, faculty, staff, health and benefits, risk, research, and more. As the task force meets, I will be able to provide more updates to the committee.
      2. CAPS Funding- Dr. Locke, Senior Director of CAPS, presented to the Faculty Senate. He discussed the services CAPS offers and the needs that CAPS currently faces. Following his presentation, he addressed two questions: Do Penn State students have adequate access to counselors, sessions, creative solutions, and resources to address their mental health needs? And, how can Penn State Faculty and our Faculty Senate foster a climate that best promotes Student Mental Health and access to support resources on campus? Chair Strauss raised the question to me earlier on as to whether or not students believe CAPS should be funded through their student fee or not. The notion was raised if this is a service that the University ought to provide, and not necessarily from the students’ pockets. Since this concern, President Barron announced his approximate $700,000 contribution (final in July of 2018).
    4. Remainder of the Semester:
      1. Time management survey with Intercollegiate Athletics- Kevin Harwell and Shawn Lichvar have volunteered to help complete the Report on time management, co-sponsoring with Intercollegiate Athletics. This will include an analysis of all students’ time management skills, not just athletes. The first meeting occurred last week and we are moving swiftly.
    5. New Business
    6. Closing Comments- I am meeting with Chair Strauss next week to see what other items Student Life can work on for the remainder of the semester. The Committee on Student Life has a unique opportunity to bring together faculty and students on student issues, so I want to make sure our time is being utilized to its full advantage. Look for an email from me in the coming weeks. Thanks!
    7. Adjournment

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    December 6, 2016

    Members Present: Alex Shockley, Katie Jordan, Shawn Lichvar, Kevin Harwell

    Members Absent: Sidharth Agrawal, Gilbert Ambler, Paul Barney, Mark Brennan, Terry Ford, Matthew Kaag, Barrett Lee, Martha Levine, Damon Sims

    1. Call to Order
    2. “Opening Acts”: Today’s Act and January’s Act. Today’s full senate meeting will welcome the Essence of Joy gospel choir. In January, the Executive Director of THON, Austin Sommerer, will come and speak. The Student Life Committee hopes for Neha Gupta to come and present during the March meeting, and it was suggested that WORDS come and present at the final meeting of the year.
    3. Discussion Items for today’s meeting:
      1. UPUA Support for International Student Council Representation. The UPUA supported a resolution that called for the addition of the International Student Council liaison to the Committee on Student Life. The committee agreed with the nature of the resolution and decided to send forward a request to the Committee on Committees & Rules.
      2. UPUA Support for ROTC Priority Scheduling. This was quickly mentioned during the meeting and informed all committee members that the ARSSA Committee was working with students to determine this possibility.
      3. Mental Health Fall Break. Following the last meeting, the committee was curious as to where this suggestion had originated. Was it students, staff, or faculty members? Following a meeting with Chair Strauss, it was determined that he had this idea. He thought that students seemed so stressed during first semester due to the long time between breaks, so to possibly help alleviate the stress of students and help CAPS with its load, he suggested that we consider possibly going back to having a separate fall break and Thanksgiving break. Co-Chair Shockley asked if he should first take this to the students to see if they would be in favor of the idea and he agreed that would be a good place to start. Following discussions amongst the student government, it was determined that this idea was not supported due to out-of-state and international travel during break, in addition to the difficulty of working around class schedules and students skipping class to go home early. After reporting this to Student Life, the committee was in agreement that this should no longer be pursued.
      4. Student Life CAPS Report. Student life will sponsor a presentation for the January meeting to have Director of CAPS Ben Locke come and present on its services for students. There will also be time for questions, and following the questions if there seems to be a need for a follow-up report, then Student Life will complete one.
    4. Looking ahead to Spring Semester:
      1. Time management survey with Intercollegiate Athletics. The Co-Chair asked for two volunteers that would work on the time management survey with Intercollegiate Athletics. Shawn Lichvar and Kevin Harwell said they would be willing to work on this report with Intercollegiate Athletics.
    5. New Business:
      1. UPUA Support for International Student Council Representation. See comments above.
      2. Smoke Free Update. There is a need for one representative from Student Life to sit on the taskforce that will be created through the Office of the President. No one at the meeting that was present was willing to commit their time to this taskforce, so Co-Chair Shockley will be reaching out to absent members to see if they would be interested.
      3. Diversity and Inclusion Topics by the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments. Shawn Lichvar informed the committee that they will be holding a Summit for CCSG on diversity and inclusion topics. There will be central funding to help with transportation costs. There will also be presentations by Marcus Whitehurst and Susan Russel, in addition to presentations by diverse faculty of the Commonwealth. There will be events for different types of food and cultural experiences, and the date is set for February 4th.
      • Closing Comments. Vice President of UPUA Katie Jordan introduced the First Year Special Committee she was asked to sit on. She was asked by the special committee if she would come to Student Life to see if our committee would be interested in sponsoring a presentation by Student Affairs on the sexual misconduct survey. The committee supported this. Chair Strauss also introduced the idea that “Being a responsible community member in the Borough” is important for the special committee to consider, looking at how this can relate to the overall education of First Year Students. Faculty Senator Harwell raised the point that only a small percentage of students are causing the damage. In the 1990s, they used to wait for the team plane to arrive and people would follow the team to rec hall with a victory rally when the team arrived at the game. Possibly this would be another idea to consider. Co-Chair Shockley recognized that an organized post-game celebration may be beneficial. This conversation will continue amongst the student governments.
    6. Adjournment

    Meeting adjourned at 10:15 a.m.
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    October 18, 2016

    1. Call to Order
    2. Attendance: Shawn Lichvar, Katie Jordan, Barrett Lee, Paul Barney, Gilbert Ambler, Damon Sims, Alex Shockley, Mary Miles, Sidharth Agrawal
    3. Absent: Terry Ford, Matthew Kaag, Mark Brennan, Kevin Harwell, Martha Levine
    4. “Opening Acts”: Today’s Act and future Acts
      Shawn: We will have the multi-campus RIU program that will be presenting to the Faculty Senate today.
      Essence of Joy will be opening act for December.F
      or suggestions for January – Neha Gupta, Juggling club/some sport, The Thespians
    5. Discussion Items for today’s meeting:
      1. Smoking Policy Resolution –
        1. Alex: Smoking Policy Resolution will be presented today. There is concern of enforcement issues and the problem of free will and the issue of smoking impacting other’s free will. There is a concern of banning smoke on campus and still having areas for individuals that can smoke that doesn’t affect others.
        2. Mary: My caucus had major concern of free will, and then concern of desk hours vs those that have time to go to car and smoke. Some concern of lack of time to be informed about the consideration of policy. Paternalism, non-consultation with Faculty, class… All concerns of interest. Union contract says they are allowed to smoke…
        3. Gilbert: going to need extensive oversight and faculty is concerned that they will be ‘police’
        4. Damon: criticism from lack of consultation of Faculty?
        5. Mary: Liberal Arts has concerns that they were not “as Faculty” addressed early on Damon: These are just the opening conversations… Need to create this taskforce in order to answer these questions
    6. Mental health statement for syllabi
    7. Sponsor UPUA and CCSG Presidents to present their goals, make contact and arrangements
      • Looking ahead to Spring Semester:
        1. Assessing CAPS and mental health services (meet with Jim)
          1. Damon: Part of Dennis Heiztmann’s duties is to look at each location and see what services they offer and what is also offered in the community. Possibly tapping into what he develops to take a piece for Faculty Senate… possibly looking at student opportunities and what they have. There is a piece on what impacts students have in the classroom for Faculty… Also resources for Faculty to tap into for themselves or students in the classroom setting. Student Affairs Research and Assessment has done some survey work. Possibly looking into this to see what would be beneficial.
          2. Alex: moving forward, sitting down with Jim to discuss exactly what should be seen from this meeting and then creating a subcommittee in December to begin benchmarking and research for this proposal
      • Examine desirability of drawing a two-day student break in October from Thanksgiving
        1. Concern of Faculty would be those of strict and set lab schedules because adding on two days would not benefit their schedules
        2. Shawn – CCSG discussed this before and lasted for about a semester, but nothing came from it
        3. Paul – this conversation occurred 15 or 20 years ago
        4. Survey of faculty and students, but first seeing where this idea came from in order to see what would actually be practical
        5. Problem comes when lab has different sessions, if there are multiple sections, some would have lab and others would not
        6. The previous policy had three days of classes before Thanksgiving of classes and then two days additional for Fall Break.
      • Time management survey with Intercollegiate Athletics
        1. Johnna is doing work already for the time management survey. Has access to survey and data involving the way students have time to manage their time and academics. Data has already been conducted from last year
      • New Business: Other issues that you would like to see addressed this year?
        1. Shawn: CCSG is planning some type of diversity summit in early spring and possibly bring up what specific diversity initiatives might want to achieve… would love to hear what Faculty would do in regards to initiatives
        2. Katie: Following diversity panel, there is a question of what Faculty are doing for diversity and inclusion in the classroom
        3. Mary: There is more attention to care, careful, vetting, word choices. Being cognizant.
        4. GPSA is looking to have a multi-cultural week on campus
        5. Possibly Report Bias would be an initiative to come out of this
        6. Barrett Lee: My department has had a heritage potluck… Following back in the 90s they invited students. Heritage potluck invites faculty, staff, students to bring something that represents their heritage and culture. This committee has also held workshops and materials for individuals.
        7. Paul Barney- Political correctness/civility has been discussed in the past
        8. Shawn: some of the smaller campuses are discussing the topic of student involvement. Out of classroom involvement has been lacking. New Kensington, for example, has lack of students that want to be involved, but also Faculty have a lack of desire to be involved
        9. Paul Barney: I was a commuter… I had no desire to be involved. Not sure if this is an awareness, but sometimes commuter students have lack of desire to be involved
        10. Damon: Is this still related to the common hour?
        11. Shawn: It is somewhat related, but only concern of certain aspects.
        12. Common hour is set time where clubs and organizations could meet during the day (between noon and one)
      • Adjournment

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    September 6, 2016

    Members Present: Mary Miles, Alex Shockley, Katie Jordan, Damon Sims, Shawn Lichvar, Gilbert Ambler, Matthew Kegg, Barrett Lee

    Absent: Martha Levine, Terry Ford, Sidharth Agrawal, Paul Barney, Mark Brennan, Kevin Harwell

    1. Call to Order
    2. Welcome and Introductions
    3. “Opening Acts”: brainstorming ideas and making contact
      -First group is the Glee Club-Will have to invite another group for each meeting following-Additional Ideas: robotics club, student presenting on research, Neha Gupta (empower orphans), club sports (or some type of physical activity), philanthropy, looking at groups from the commonwealth campuses, RIU (through the College of Engineering- Aaron something), invite minority groups that can present on their culture (diversity/international)
    4. Recruit members to work on major projects:
      1. Smoking Policy Forensic Report (September) – completed through Committee on Faculty Benefits and Student Life
      2. “What we do” committee informational report (October) – all members of Student Life thought the current mission/purpose of Student Life was accurate to what this committee strives to achieve
      3. Mental health statement for syllabi, examples attached (October)
      4. Sponsor UPUA and CCSG Presidents to present their goals, make contact and arrangements (October).
    5. Question: Should student activity fees be collapsed into a single fee? – Vice President Damon Sims commented that this board is already in effect and would be created this Fall
    6. Looking ahead to Spring Semester:
      1. Assessing CAPS and mental health services
      2. Examine desirability of drawing a two-day student break in October from Thanksgiving
      3. Time management survey with Intercollegiate Athletics
    7. Ideas for invited guests
    8. New Business: Other issues that you would like to see addressed this year? – N/A
    9. Adjournment

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