Students offer praise, criticism at session with chancellor

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis.

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis held a “Dialogue with Students.” Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

 

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis listened to criticism and addressed concerns for more than two hours Thursday in a “Dialogue with Students” session.

“The University of Illinois at Chicago is committed to an environment where ideas can be freely discussed, critically examined and debated,” he said. “We’re here to listen and learn about what your concerns are.”

The event opened with Mercedez Jones, president of Undergraduate Student Government, who said student leaders want to “devise an action plan to create change” on campus.

A number of students had good things to say about why they chose UIC.

“I appreciate how, as a research institution, there is such an emphasis on challenging what we think, how we think and the way we think,” said J. Austin Buen-Gharib, a student in the College of Engineering.

The next part of the dialogue did exactly that, as speakers shared their ideas on how UIC can better support students.

Issues included student employee wages, graduation rates, procurement diversity, safety and health care, as well as disparities in the number of minorities on campus, conditions of campus residence halls, space for students with disabilities and a push for courses or training to improve cultural sensitivity.

Amiridis outlined some of UIC’s efforts in these areas.

He noted that UIC is already helping make the transition from high school to college for underserved students “more seamless” with scholarships and partnerships with the City Colleges of Chicago. “We are creating a better pipeline with community colleges,” he said.

Some of the concerns students voiced are the result of financial issues he’s “willing to take head-on” in 2016, Amiridis said. He asked that students be patient until January, when the university hopes the state budget impasse will be resolved. “I’m committed to addressing this,” he said.

Other administrators who spoke at the event included Linda Deanna, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, Tyrone Forman, associate chancellor and vice provost for diversity, and UIC Police Chief Kevin Booker.

Amiridis told the students he is open to hearing their solutions to the issues voiced at the meeting.

“I welcome suggestions. Help me out,” he said.