Former Lloyd Hall Scholars Program Resident Fellow Lani Pascual’s disappointment with the direction of the program finally reached a point where she had to speak out when she heard about the LSA dean’s office July decision to eliminate the Resident Fellow position after this academic year.
Resident Fellows are graduate students who live in Alice Lloyd Residence Hall with LHSP students and teach classes within the program.
“The decision was made without any input from students,” Pascual said. “It’s kind of like building a menu and seeing if people will come, instead of asking people what they want.”
Pascual, along with a group of former and present members of the LHSP community wrote a proposal, pointing out a lack of diversity and student leadership, among other things. She said one of the biggest problems of LHSP since its inception in 1962 has been its lack of direction.
“It has no institutional memory of itself,” Pascual said, adding that it has always been a problem to draw up a plan for the program. “With each new administration, these ideas kind of get pushed on the wayside.”
Diversity appears to be an issue with many members of the LHSP community. According to the proposal written, in the 1994-1995 academic year, students of color comprised 32 percent of LHSP students. When a similar study was done last year, only 8.3 percent of LHSP students were from minority groups.
Marjorie Horton, LSA assistant dean for undergraduate education, attributes this decrease in diversity to an increase of choices for minority students in the last five years.
“Three new living learning programs (UROP-in-Residence, Michigan Community Scholars Program and the Health Science Scholars Program) have been developed since 1994, so it is not surprising if some students elect to join these new programs instead of the older program,” Horton said.
She added that LHSP plans to implement more aggressive recruiting techniques in order to create a balanced program again.
“LHSP directors have developed a plan to recruit a more diverse group of students, and they have consulted with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the LSA director of student recruitment in developing their plan,” Horton said. “One aim of the new recruiting efforts will be to publicize LHSP better at additional high schools that have more diverse student bodies.”
Pascual and other members of the community said diversity goes beyond race, and includes socio-economic status, geographic location and different intellectual backgrounds. Pascual noted LHSP’s belief in open discourse.
“There can’t be a discussion if everybody agrees with everybody else.”
LSA sophomore Allison Lasky, who is in her second year of the LHSP program, said there needs to be a greater effort for getting a more mixed group of LHSP students, to counter the “huge” lack of diversity. She noted problems she had in one of her LHSP classes last year, as one of a minority.
“A lot of the discussions in my class were marred by the fact that for the three of us not from upper-middle class homes in Michigan, it was harder for us to get our point across,” Lasky said. “I think there’s something to say for a lack of diversity in a smaller setting because that’s really isolating people.”
LSA sophomore Mike Lusardi, a former LHSP student, said he thought that LHSP was “catering to similar clientele,” but he expected that and was not bothered too much.
“I understand that it’s geared towards freshmen and getting them used to college life,” Lusardi said.
The lack of upperclassmen leadership has been another complaint raised. Former Resident Fellow Joe Gonzalez said learning living communities tend to only apply to first and second year students. He claimed LHSP students need more responsibility in the day-to-day activities of the program.
“They deserve to have a government that has discretionary money to spend on programming,” Gonzalez said. “If there are leadership positions available, I think it would be more likely to retain students.”
Kathleen Schanne, a former LHSP student and Writing Center worker, said juniors and seniors who want to stay involved in LHSP do not necessarily need to live in the residence hall in order to stay active.
“I think that’s most valuable just to remain involved in the program,” Schanne said.