City-Universty Life course, coronavirus among SGA meeting discussion topics

Written By Sarah Gibson, SGA Beat Writer

The Student Government Association of Point Park University (SGA) welcomed their first guest speaker of the semester in Heather Starr-Fiedler of the Department of Community Engagement, which according to Fiedler, is a both academic and non-academic department at Point Park that supports the community engagement minor, the women and gender studies minor, and is responsible for the curriculum for the City-University Life 101 class.

Among many other community projects, Fiedler elaborated on the inner workings of Pioneer Pantry, which, she added, does not just offer food. For two years, the Pioneer Pantry has only offered shelf-stable food, but as of recent, Feidler has been working hard to allow Pioneer Pantry to grow past shelf-stable food. One direction that it is expanding upon is in toiletry items. The Pioneer Pantry now offers shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap under the category of “personal items.” The pantry has also recently received a grant for a new refrigerator, which now allows the pantry to hold and offer fresh foods and dairy products to students instead of just shelf-stable foods. Fiedler mentioned that fresh foods such as vegetables would probably be saved for pop-up stands in order to avoid waste. She mentioned that at a previous pop-up event, 500 pounds of produce was given away to students on campus in two hours.

When prompted by Senator Dennis McDermott about whether or not the Department of Community Engagement had made any recent changes to the City-University Life curriculum, Fiedler provided a “Fall Semester by The Numbers” report, which included a survey taken by more than 700 students. Fiedler noted that in the past, students have complained of “not learning anything” in their City-University Life class, or claimed to have different experiences from their peers. This fall, Fiedler said that after evaluating past practices, the Department of Community Engagement created a set of modules for the class, the directory for which was included in the documents passed out to the legislative body. It entailed whether or not these students’ perspectives had changed after the class, as well as a collection of student testimonials and details on the Social Impact Poster portion of City-University Life, where students propose solutions for current social issues and create posters which are then voted on by members of the Point Park community.

During the second open floor, Dean Gieseke stood to address the current coronavirus dilemma with the legislative body. He assured all of those in attendance that the administration was keeping a very close eye on the coronavirus and its developments both inside the country and out. Gieseke noted that there are currently 11 students from Point Park studying abroad in 4 countries. Gieseke informed the legislative body that the university was in contact with each of those 11 students, trying to help and figure out what course of action is right for them. When asked by Senator Jade Steele about whether or not there are talks of bringing students back, Gieseke explained that while many study abroad programs across the country are being suspended, because Point Park’s abroad students were at Point Park affiliated campuses, it was the students’ choice as to whether or not they come home before the semester is over, and that the university would work closely with the students if they should choose to do so.