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Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

SGC asks President Cornish questions about student enrollment, TCAT and director searches

Cornish+said+she+is+looking+forward+to+the+open+house+the+college+is+hosting+on+March+20%2C+and+admitted+students+day+on+March+23+and+April+13.%C2%A0
Lucia Iandolo
Cornish said she is looking forward to the open house the college is hosting on March 20, and admitted students day on March 23 and April 13. 

The Ithaca College Student Governance Council met March 18 to ask President La Jerne Cornish questions about updates on the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) system, facilities around campus and the ongoing searches for new directors of the BIPOC Unity Center and The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. The meeting was open to everyone in the college community but no community members were in attendance.

Before the council engaged in discussion about their concerns toward Cornish, sophomore Senate Chair Nikki Sutera asked the president if she had any news she wanted to share. 

Cornish said she is looking forward to the open house the college is hosting on March 20, and admitted students day on March 23 and April 13. 

“Other than that, I’m here to listen and answer questions,” Cornish said. 

Class of 2026 Senator Asata Rothblatt said she was curious about how the heating facilities in the dorms work as often they are inconsistent with the weather. 

“Right before break there [was] a day that hit 70 [degrees], I got back to my room and the heaters were still pumping,” Rothblatt said. “I don’t entirely understand how [those facilities] work. I know people can [not] control [the system automatically], but I just want to make that a reminder since climate change is making our weather strange right now.”

Cornish said she will take back that issue to her team who handles facilities, but acknowledged that Rothblatt addressed an issue of the college’s use of energy. 

“It’s gonna be a cold week, but you raise an energy issue,” Cornish said. “We just need to make sure that we are taking care of our resources properly and so I can take that back to you.”

Class of 2024 Senator Molly Hankinson said she wanted to know more about the hour restriction for student employees being increased past 20 hours a week. 

In response, Cornish said she will take the question back to her team and get an answer for Hankinson. 

Sutera asked Cornish about the financial deficit the college was in related to student enrollment and what the trajectory for student enrollment looks like for 2024.

“I think it was in a meeting last year Tim Downs came and talked to us about how the deficit that we’re currently in is partially related to how student enrollment has dropped over the past few years,” Sutera said. “Is [student enrollment] still following an upward trajectory? Or is it going to be faster or slower?” 

Cornish said the college is projecting to hit its goal of first-year and transfer students admitted in 2024. 

“We have projected that for financial sustainability moving forward we need to bring in a first-year class that includes first-year students and transfer students somewhere between 1,380 and 1,420 every year,” Cornish said.

Then Cornish began to explain the progression of enrolled first-year students over the years. Cornish said there were an estimated 1,666 first-year students admitted in 2018, 1,506 admitted in 2019 and 995 admitted in 2020. Following the drop in enrollment, the college has begun to steadily increase with nearly 1,300 first-year students admitted in 2023.

Sutera asked Cornish, in retrospect of the IC RiseUp protests that happened in 2023 and the recent departure of the director of the BIPOC Unity Center, how the college is ensuring that the campus is more equitable for minority students. 

Cornish said the establishment of the Center for Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging has been the biggest accomplishment the college has made in making strides toward equity for all students. 

“We’re really proud now that [the center is] fully staffed.We continue to try to diversify our faculty and staff which remains one of our major goals,” Cornish said.

Senior Noah Kahmens, club athletes senator, asked Cornish if there were any updates on finding a new director for The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. The former director, Yasin Ahmed, left the college in October 2023

Cornish said that they are still searching for that position and the position for the director of the BIPOC Unity Center and that they hope to have those positions filled by July. 

First-year student Joslyn Forcione, School of H&S senator, said SUNY Cortland has a system where the TCAT can make direct stops from campus to places like Walmart. She wanted to know if the college would make this arrangement with the TCAT to make transportation easier for students. 

Cornish said that she has been in discussion with TCAT and that the biggest issue they are facing right now is a lack of drivers. 

“I’ve talked about adding additional slots, you know, the issue really has been the amount of drivers so they decrease the number of routes because of the issue of [not having enough] drivers,” Cornish said.

The discussion ended with Cornish thanking the council for meeting with her. “Everytime I come to see [the council], the passion for [addressing student concerns] starts to burn again,” Cornish said. “So, thank you.”

The SGC is the sole representative body for the Ithaca College student community. The SGC can be contacted at [email protected].

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Jacquelyn Reaves, Newsletter Editor
Lucia Iandolo, Videographer
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