Re-accreditation team begins meeting students

Crystal Chunnu

A plethora of benefits to being a Baruch College student, along with some issues that Baruch can improve on, were shared among the 30 students and eight faculty members at the Middle States Evaluation forum on March 3. 

The Middle States Evaluation Team conducted the open forum to assess the quality of Baruch through student feedback. Issues such as overcrowding were first mentioned in the discussion. 

“We’ve admitted more students this year who were only able to register for four classes, instead of their usual five,” said Dakshatha Daggala, the Undergraduate Student Government’s president.

One student exclaimed that she had been an undergraduate student for five years, instead of four simply because of unavailable classes. 

Nicole Pung, USG’s secretary, said that the overcrowding and lack of available classes are also due to Baruch now having four buildings instead of the 6-7 buildings it used to have. 

Students from her first-year seminar course would frequently tell her that they are unable to sign up for courses they need and are forced to wait on waitlists. 

When asked about how students feel about construction occurring on and around campus, some students expressed concerns about losing the plaza.

“It’s a small identity crisis for students,” said an intercultural communications junior and transfer student from City College. “When students lost the plaza due to construction, they also lost a part of their Baruch identity.”

Students expressed that they can’t find a place to eat on campus because the plaza is closed and the cafeterias on campus are frequently crowded. 

“We used to have our club fair outside in the plaza. People who are new to Baruch don’t know what they’re missing out on because they’ve never experienced this,” said Pung. 

With the weather getting warmer, students are feeling more uncomfortable staying inside as the plaza undergoes construction. 

Another issue discussed was delayed elevators. When there are hundreds of students trying to get to places at the same time, including students with medical or disability issues, crammed elevators and staircases are ineffective and dangerous.

Going to class at the Lawrence and Eris Field Building at 17 Lexington is also tough when it comes to navigating the elevators. The delays and unreliability force some students to be 20 or more minutes late and some professors don’t tolerate elevator issues as an excuse. 

A new student center at Baruch is estimated to open in April to give students a place to hang out in between classes and to lessen some of the overcrowding, according to Daggala. Nonetheless, students still believe they are receiving their money’s worth at Baruch. 

Neel Hatwar, an international student from India and a peer mentor, said he came to Baruch to study finance because the school is located in the vicinity of other competitive schools, is a public institution, has a high diversity rate and a positive community overall. 

“There isn’t a day I don’t see people at Baruch wearing a suit,” Hatwar said, commenting on the competitive business-like structure of Baruch’s community. 

Students also voiced their approval and satisfaction with programs outside of academics that help them gain a hands-on advantage as college students when asked to share if they feel as if enough of these programs are incorporated at Baruch. 

Such programs include the Conversations Partner Program, in which international students are partnered with students who are New York residents to foster one-on-one student learning and to help students make friends.

The CUNY Hackathon and the Entrepreneurship Center were also among the discussion for beneficial student learning. The CUNY Hackathon allowed 429 students across CUNY schools to build an app to better the world. The prompt for last year’s Hackathon was to create an app to help better living in NYC. 

Baruch accounts for its diverse population by offering progressive programs like Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York. Freshmen and sophomore females interested in business and technology can pursue a one-week internship through WiTNY, according to a student at the forum. 

Zicklin students or any students interested in starting their own business can sign up for CUNY’s startup accelerator, a program that assists students in pitching their start-up idea to investors. 

Baruch is also home to one of 13 Consult Your Community chapters in America. Consult Your Community is an opportunity for business students to showcase their business savviness by consulting local businesses around Baruch’s campus.

Another program that is important and useful for students aspiring to work in business is the Confucius Institute for Global Finance program, which teaches Chinese to current bachelors and masters-seeking students, alumni and faculty members. 

Likewise, the Wasserman Trading floor is open to all students regardless of their majors and allows students to utilize trading software to learn about markets and financial services in real-time.

There are also many paid and funded academic opportunities for students as well. 

Studying abroad is an easy endeavor according to some students because almost all finances can be covered with stipends or grants. Daggala said she was able to attend a Holocaust Memorial class for a week in Poland, with all expenses but $200 covered. 

The Student Academic Counseling Center allows students to use their mastery of specific skills from courses they’ve taken and received an A in to help other students by becoming a paid tutor. 

Recently, the STARR Career and Development Center advertised that stipends are available to students pursuing unpaid internships to help them financially. 

When asked about academics in particular, students explained some of the unique opportunities that learning in the classrooms at Baruch offers, such as professors providing more case-based learning, less reading from the textbook and more interactive online learning systems across a variety of disciplines to further students’ learning. 

Motivated students can also partake in the Fiat seminar which allows students with a GPA of 3.4 or higher to enroll in a course that takes up to 16 students, a rare opportunity for Baruch where classes typically range from 30-300 or more students. Faculty and staff members at Baruch are also supportive of students’ goals. 

Issues pertaining to sexual misconduct can be discussed with Joy Allison, the associate director of Health and Wellness, according to Gabriela Peralta, a digital communications major and Peers Advocating for Wellness Services peer mentor. 

“There aren’t just authority figures at the office. These are people you can talk to,” Peralta said about the students and staff at the Health and Wellness Center. 

Several students pointed out that all Baruch students have retained awareness of resources regarding abuse and assault on campus because they must go through the SPARC online training for sexual assault.

One student also mentioned that faculty members remind students that Title IV is also implemented off campus as well, for volunteer-abroad, study-abroad and other travel opportunities offered through student organizations. 

“People are also coming to the office more frequently for therapy, if they’re struggling with courses or if they feel generally overwhelmed,” according to another PAWS peer mentor. 

A SEEK Student said she has an assigned academic advisor for her four undergraduate years and can seek other advisors if needed. 

Other students outside of SEEK said that although they appreciate that the advisors cater to all students across the Zicklin, Weissman and Marxe schools, they still find it hard to book an appointment with an advisor and are thankful that Degreeworks highlights all graduation requirements for any major or major change. 

According to Dr. Nasrin Fatima, the associate provost for institutional research, effectiveness, and planning at SUNY Binghamton, 69% of students are students of color, yet the faculty at Baruch is mostly Caucasian. 

“Professors have never made me feel a sense of otherness for being the only black student in the class,” one student said, sharing that she never felt ostracized for being the only black woman in her physics or accounting classes. 

One student shared an incident where she encountered derogatory slang and the Dean of Students was able to resolve her case within a week. 

“There are a lot of resources that undergraduate students aren’t taking a hold of,” said Maria Olvera, a freshman majoring in mathematics who was enlightened by the number of opportunities and support Baruch students actually have. “It’s kind of a shame.”