Anderson open for questioning at ‘Q&A with Dr. A’

In the fall, Sharon Zeicu may need to pay a $100 transportation fee — even though she doesn’t park on campus.

“I don’t even own a car,” Zeicu said. She added that she doesn’t use the Penguin Shuttle either, which Youngstown State University officials say would be supported by the mandatory fee.

She relies on public transportation or walks, weather permitting, from her home near the intersection of Belle Vista and Mahoning avenues.

Zeicu, 61, is already dealing with enough in her first semester as a nontraditional student. She said she lacks the computer skills necessary to succeed in college.

It was student concerns like these, and the unseasonably warm weather that led to sweltering buildings in March, that gave students the opportunity to grill YSU President Cynthia Anderson at the “Q&A with Dr. A” session, held in the Presidential Suites in Kilcawley Center on Monday.

Anderson kicked off the Q-and-A session by updating the roughly 15 students in attendance on the status of campus renovations and the new smoking policy.

“I’m not surprised [with the turnout],” Anderson said. She said it would be nice if more students took advantage of the opportunity to express their concerns directly to her.

It took a little prodding by Anderson to get the crowd going.

“Tell me what can we do better at YSU,” Anderon said. It was met with silence. “How about that chilled water, you guys? I had to hear about it. I got hate mail.”

John Hyden, executive director of facilities, then explained how the campus cooling system works, and how it’s much more complicated than simply flipping a switch.

Other issues discussed were efforts YSU is undertaking to boost the retention rate and market itself to other parts of the world.

But the majority of the hourlong open forum was spent dispelling rumors about the proposed transportation fee.

Even though students, including Zeicu, raised concerns over mandatory parking fees, Anderson and Gene Grilli, vice president for finance and administration, repeatedly stressed that the final form is still uncertain.

“The transportation fee proposal needs a lot of work. We’re at the beginning stages,” Anderson said.

Students who already purchase a parking permit won’t see a change on their bill.

“It’s not an increase whatsoever,” Anderson said. The fee will apply to all students enrolled in six or more credit hours.

Grilli and Anderson said the fee is necessary in order for the university to accrue additional revenue needed to maintain the parking lots and decks. Additionally, enabling all students to park on campus would make it easier for the YSU Police Department to keep them safe.

“We cannot keep you safe if you’re parking all the way across Belmont Avenue,” Anderson said.

Anderson said several opportunities exist between now and when the board of trustees reviews the proposal in May for students to voice their opinions and concerns.

“It is a matter of fairness,” Anderson said. “Is this fair and equitable?”

While YSU doesn’t have enough parking spaces for every student to be on campus at the same time, Grilli said because of the way class offerings are structured, there will always be enough spaces.