UA-76843172-1

Professors provide perspectives on campus change

Pictured: Dr. Kaiser Ortiz in in his office in front of his extensive book collection. (Photo courtesy to Nina Plaksin.)

Simren Shah

Associate Features Editor 

Change. It is something we fear, something we strive for, an inevitability of life. Millersville University has gone through changes to become the place we know it as today. Some professors provided input on their views and observations about the campus, and the importance of change.

Dr. Kaiser Ortiz, a professor from the philosophy department, spoke first about his favorite part of the university, which is “los estudiantes.”

“The most positive thing about this place is the students. I think of them in Spanish and French terms. Los estudiantes: the next generation… I’m here to help students get to wherever they want to get,” said Kaiser Ortiz. After all, what would a college campus be without students?

Kaiser Ortiz advocated for a “more typical college atmosphere” by suggesting the addition of a campus movie theater, a brewery and nightclub closer to campus, as well as restaurants. “I fear that too many administrators and faculty are disconnected from the generational interests and needs of current students,” he stated.

Kaiser Ortiz emphasized the “disconnect” he observes on campus by pointing out that a lot of students travel home on the weekends instead of sticking around for athletic events, theatre events and guest speakers.

“Lancaster is saturated with development and it is time the more entrepreneurial, daring and creative spirit of the local business-folk starts to give Millersville some attention,” Kaiser Ortiz said. He specified that he is “not talking about the university food truck.” He would prefer to see recreational activities such a “truly welcoming outside food truck day.”

As for the lack of parking enraging many students, Kaiser Ortiz is less concerned with improving the parking situation. “I love that we’ve closed down the street (East Frederick Street) here,” he maintained. Kaiser Ortiz stated that he is aware of the complaints coming from faculty and students regarding lack of parking, but considering public transportation and carpooling options, parking is low priority.

“The things I am envisioning are things that require more than just faculty, staff, and management. It requires people really investing in the region,” said Kaiser Ortiz. He mentioned that Millersville used to have a farmer’s market that sold fresh eggs and fruit. He also recalled there being a local movie theater at one point. However, these places no longer exist. It is time to recreate those atmospheres, and more.

“I think we need to give some serious thought to these ideas and considerations, but given the way that humans respond to the possibilities of the future it seems that we’re doing a bad job of recognizing the urgent need and necessity for change,” Kaiser Ortiz concluded.

He identifies as “a bit of a utopian dreamer,” naming several artworks that help illustrate his vision for the university.

Kaiser Ortiz’s ideal campus consists of “more Garden of Earthly Delights (a painting by Hieronymous Bosch from 1500-1505) and less American Gothic (a painting by Grant Wood from 1930). I envision students hanging out on campus and doing what they used to do decades ago.” He encourages “hanging out a bit and talking to each other, staging impromptu plays, and playing guitar” as opposed to somberly running off to cars and working too much.

Kaiser Ortiz describes the campus as “structurally segregated.” A look out of a third-floor window reveals that the buildings have no structural connection. As he pointed out, the most connected thing about Millersville University’s campus is the telephone poles.

“I would like to see campus, not so much in terms of formal involvement. Not everyone has the stomach for it, for sitting through long student governments, but I do want to see the unicyclists and jugglers have a greater presence. I would like to see the construction of an outdoor, all season, all weather, amphitheater that’s heated but allows the big boy brass band to play,” said Kaiser Ortiz. Music and art is of great importance to Kaiser Ortiz. “I imagine speakers spaced throughout campus broadcasting the local radio station,” he added.

Dr. Banna, a professor from Millersville’s psychology department, provided input on her favorite aspects of the university. “My favorite thing about Millersville University is the people. That includes students, staff, faculty, and administrators. The students are hardworking, friendly, and frankly, tolerate my classroom tangents,” said Banna. Banna has a positive outlook on the campus and enjoys being a professor here.

Banna expressed her gratitude for her colleagues including “Liz in Housekeeping, Kevin in the supply shop, and Keisha in our main office.” Banna credits much of her success on the job to the people surrounding her. “I often say that I don’t have colleagues, I have work family,” said Banna.

Much like Dr. Kaiser Ortiz, Dr. Banna hopes to see more campus life. “I would like to see more development on and around campus that provides students with more dining, entertainment, and social opportunities. When I was in college, campus was always full of students – days and evenings, weekdays and weekends,” said Banna. Banna also commented on the lack of recreational activities within walking distance and the tendency of students to go home every weekend.

In response to the topic of student involvement in change on campus, Banna shared some observations and advice. “Students often fail to recognize the value of self-advocacy. Our state schools exist primarily to provide an affordable undergraduate education to the students we have the privilege to serve. You are the reason all of us are here. When you see problems on campus, write to your department chairs, deans, vice-presidents, president,” said Banna.

Banna encourages students to communicate with their professors, and to ask questions. Student involvement is an important aspect of having a functional campus and a positive experience.

Dr. Seigworth, a professor in the communications department, also listed students as his favorite thing about the university. “They are the reason that I love my job, even when I assign too much reading or regret my daily quizzes,” said Seigworth.

Seigworth proposed some specific changes for the university. The alterations he listed include, “more parking, internships that are paid, none that are unpaid, and finding a way for students to slow down and relax more so that they can better enjoy these years of their lives and feel less rushed, less anxious, less in debt.”

All three professors agree that change is a necessary aspect of a successful campus. “I don’t think students often know where or how to intervene or rise up and demand change,” added Seigworth. He explained that students get so caught up in just trying to get by due to busy lives, that change just isn’t a priority.

Seigworth encouarges student activism and speaking up. “Collective action is the antidote to inertia and an inattentive and too long entrenched status quo,” said Seigworth. Perhaps an effective way to initiate change is by talking to professors, deans, etc., as Dr. Banna suggested earlier. Students often do not realize that their voices matter and figure they are busy enough already, so they do not push themselves to talk to people in charge.

Advocate for change, join organizations and clubs, write about it, talk about it, brainstorm with others. It is so crucial to make this campus a better place for students currently enrolled and for students who will make their way here in the future. A conversation is where change begins, but don’t allow change to remain just a conversation; here is to hoping action will follow.