Tag Archives: Colleges and Universities

New Students Set Sail for Academic Success

Feature Photo Caption: Ryan Shaw ready to take on the new academic year and next, the world. (Photo taken on St. Thomas courtesy of Adeola Adelekan, Orientation Leader)

By Alicia Taylor and Nathalie Trow-McDonald

IMG_0560Albert A. Sheen- St. Croix campus new student orientation island tour, August 20, at Point Udall. (Courtesy of Catey Mendoza, a National Student Exchange student from Alaska)

Albert A. Sheen – St. Croix Campus Orientation: Perspectives of An Exchange Student

Attending UVI is the beginning of our flight towards success. With the help of the orientation staff and student leaders, we were introduced to the flight attendants and captains that will assist in our navigation throughout the journey we call college.

Throughout our flight journey at UVI, we were instructed on safety precautions and instruments we can utilize to assist us. We were educated about campus security, dating and violence, sexual assault and physical and mental health concerns. Through counseling and health services, RAVE and a variety of other departments on campus, students can be reassured that the flight they are traveling on is a safe one.

The theme for orientation on the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix was “Navigating Your Path to Academic Success,” hence all the flight metaphors.

Being a National Student Exchange (NSE) student, the Virgin Islands was an unknown territory waiting to be revealed to me. Attending orientation allowed me the opportunity to experience the university and the culture of St. Croix first hand.

The orientation staff and faculty made it their priority to make sure each student either learned or was reminded of the heritage of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. Meals were prepared with a variety of foods local to the Caribbean, including the introduction of two local food trucks for students to try at lunch.

The St. Croix campus offered orientation students to take part in a movie night at the Caribbean Cinema, an island tour, bowling at Ten Pins and snorkeling lessons.

Of all the organized activities and events, the New Student Convocation and Buccaneer Welcome Reception was my favorite. Specifically, President Hall’s address to the students.

“He was engaging, relatable and genuinely cared about each of us individually,” said Cassie (Cassandra) Glodowski, a NSE student from Wisconsin. “He didn’t just see us as a statistic, but rather as a student of UVI.”

After walking the stage and being bestowed the medal, I felt like an official member of the Buccaneer community. UVI is proud of each and every student, whether they are here for a semester or five years. The bond created here is unbreakable and each individual of this community will assist in navigating you towards the path of academic success.

Regardless of the destination, you have allowed UVI to provide a stamp on your passport of life. Continue reading New Students Set Sail for Academic Success

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UVI PRIDE DAY OF SERVICE

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Volunteers repaint the kiosk information center as part of Pride Week activities.

Olinger Augustin |

ST. CROIX – Students, faculty, and staff met on Monday, March 28 to provide a day of service on the Albert A. Sheen campus by sprucing up the kiosk information center.

As part of the university’s annual Pride Week, the UVI community gathered to provide community service on the campus itself.

Student Activities’ Hedda Finch-Simpson noted, “Often times we tend to go off campus to provide community service, but this time we decided to bring it to the actual campus to get students excited about school pride.” Continue reading UVI PRIDE DAY OF SERVICE

Tuition increase looms as UVI challenges continue

Patrice Reneé Harris |

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Aerial View of UVI St. Thomas Campus. Photo Credit: uvi.edu

ST. THOMAS — Students at the University of the Virgin Islands will have to brace themselves for a possible tuition increase in the upcoming academic year in light of the university’s continued fiscal challenges. As the university continues to tighten its belt amidst decreasing government appropriations, increasing tuition will likely be one of the new schemes to improve its financial situation.

In an email on Feb. 9, David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands alerted the UVI community that there was a deficit in the 2016 fiscal year budget. Dr. Hall explained the three main factors that contributed to the deficit.

“This present challenge is a result of various factors, including (1) the drop in enrollment over the previous fiscal years from 2,700 students to 2,300 students which has lowered our revenues and unfortunately we have not made the appropriate adjustment in expenditures; (2) the drop in our government appropriations over the previous fiscal years has eliminated a lot of the flexibility in our operating budget; and (3) some of our accounting controls have  not forced units to stay within their budgeted amounts,” the email read.

In an interview with the UVI Voice on Feb. 15, President Hall explained that the units were not maliciously overspending, but accumulated unpaid bills that rolled over from the end of the previous fiscal year.

In light of such, President Hall said the university is introducing new monitoring tools. These controls include denying authorization for purchases that exceed department budgets, closely monitoring department budgets towards the end of the fiscal year, and bringing forward the cut off point for orders and purchases.

“All of us have to be much more willing to stay within the budgets we are given and not exceed them, even when they are good reasons to do it,” Hall said.

In an effort to mitigate the impending deficit of $1.4 million, the president asked each unit of the university to reduce its budget by 4.8 percent for fiscal year 2016. In doing so, Dr. Hall asked each department to ensure that the reduction in budget does not affect employees’ jobs nor the quality of students’ education.

According to Hall, the fall in enrollment by some 400 students significantly affects the school’s operational budget, as the faculty size remained the same.

“We are also attempting to enhance our revenues through various new programs and especially through an increase in enrollment,” President Hall said. “The university is looking for ways to increase class sizes but not affect the quality of students’ education.”

Though the proposal is not final, Hall said a tuition increase is likely to be among the new measures to circumvent the deficit. The decision will only become final after the president proposes the tuition increase to the board and meets with the Student Government Associations and the student population.

Zoé Walker, vice president of the Student Government Association on St. Croix said the tuition increase is warranted in light of UVI’s fiscal challenges.

“I can understand why the students would find this proposed tuition increase frightening. But our students must remember that UVI currently has the most affordable tuition in the nation as an HBCU. In order for us to continue to receive a quality education in paradise, the university has to do certain things to achieve that, especially in light of a decrease in funds received from the government.”

Walker is also advocating for an improvement in the university’s payment option, stating that the options should be more flexible to accommodate students.

“I also believe that the university must observe that, although it is not a drastic increase, every student’s situation is different and (we) should make sure we have appropriate payment plans available,” Walker said.

Though the fiscal challenges are burdensome, President Hall is confident that UVI will overcome them as it has in the past.

“…I am still optimistic about UVI and where we are heading,” he said. “We have had fiscal challenges for the last four or five years. Students should not be fearful that this signals some major problem with the institution, but it is just unfortunately a part of doing business these days, where you have to tighten your belts and ensure you are generating more revenue. Besides a tuition increase, we are looking at new programs that can bring more revenue to the institution,” Hall said.

President Hall will present a revised fiscal year 2016 budget to the Finance and Budget Committee of the Board on Feb. 22 and approval is expected at its March 5 meeting.

 

New Semester, New Approach

NATHALIE TROW-MCDONALD AND CHE-RAINA WARNER

As the new semester starts, students here at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) have a lot on their minds. Our staff went around surveying local and exchange students to learn their thoughts and opinions for the Spring Semester of 2016.

 

davidbeavansDavid Beavans

first semester exchange student

What was your first reaction to St. Thomas and/or UVI? What surprised you the most?

My first reaction to UVI was kind of bad. This school is super tiny compared to my college back home. I arrived and my phone didn’t have service, hardly anyone was on campus, I didn’t have the code for the WiFi, and there were problems with my room. It was pretty tough for the entire afternoon. Then I met some other National Student Exchange students at dinner and everything changed completely.

 

What was your biggest mistake of last semester/something you want to improve this semester?

Last semester, I slacked off at the beginning of my classes. Thus, I dug a hole for myself and was forced to climb out of it by the end of the semester. This semester I’m going hard in the beginning so it will be easier at the end.

 

What are your goals for the end of the semester?

My goals by the end of the semester are to visit a lot of places, make lifelong friends, and become more cultured.

Continue reading New Semester, New Approach

University of the Virgin Islands Annual Basketball Bush League.

BY: Jeremiah Harrison

ST.THOMAS — The faint echo of balls bouncing on the court is heard over the chatter of players as teams warm up in the gym at the University of the Virgin Islands “Annual Basketball Bush League.”  Players gather from all communities of the island in hopes of enjoying the game of basketball.

UVI’s Basketball Bush League was started by a young man named Jedd, whose purpose to begin the league was as he put it “Just for something to do.”   Even if it started as simply as that, it is now on its second year and is creating a good buzz for young adults on island. Continue reading University of the Virgin Islands Annual Basketball Bush League.

USVI/BVI Friendship Day

By Symra Hendrickson

ST.THOMAS — Gov. John deJongh Jr. rolled out the red carpet this year to welcome the BVI delegates for the 41st USVI/BVI Friendship Day.

USVI/BVI Friendship Day is an opportunity for Virgin Islanders to reflect on the close ties that bind the two territories together. It was designed to strengthen and build upon the bond of friendship, history and shared cultures of the Virgin Islands. The theme of this year’s Friendship Day was “Ole Tyme Tings – Celebrating the Ties that Bind Us!” When the Friendship Committee said “Ole Tyme” they really meant it. There were Long Johns, local passion fruity and peanut punches and mini pineapple tarts. There were also coal pot demonstrations. Continue reading USVI/BVI Friendship Day

Miss UVI Captures The Crown of Miss NBCA Hall of Fame Queens Pageant

BRIEF

SAMECA HENDRICKSON | ST THOMAS –  After competing in poise, talent, image, and personal/private interview, Elisa M. Thomas, Miss UVI 2014-2015, captured the prestigious title of Miss NBCA Hall of Fame Queens Pageant. Thomas vied for title among 29 other HBCU royalty in Atlanta, Georgia on September 24-28.

University faculty and staff, students and well wishers greatly applaud Thomas on her a job well done!

Feature Article to follow

Meal Plan Disaster!

UNIVERSITY IN NEED OF A NEW MEAL PLAN

ANTOINETTE ANDERSON|

ST. THOMAS–The cafeteria is the center of entertainment and dining at most universities and colleges. The on-campus students at the University of the Virgin Islands are tired of complaining and giving suggestions to Student Housing and Student Government Association about their dissatisfaction with the food service.

Academics are the most important part of a student’s college career. On-campus students aren’t spending thousands of dollars to just hang out around campus. Students are spending this abundant amount of money so they can actually learn something.

St. Thomas students having dinner and the rice, beans and plantains that were on one of there plates. Antoinette Anderson
St. Thomas students having dinner and the rice, beans and plantains that were on one of their plates.
Antoinette Anderson

However, that doesn’t mean university administration should focus their attention solely on education and forget about the importance of providing students with quality food service. The dining hall has a great atmosphere and view but lacks cleanliness. Several students have gotten sick from eating the food and the lack of professionalism by the employees is a serious problem.

The impolite staff in the cafeteria has added to the bad reputation for on-campus dining. Several students have gotten into verbal confrontations with cafeteria staff. Many students and staff have witnessed the cafeteria staff use profane language and aggressive tones toward each other and students.

“One of the chefs was very disrespectful to me during the lunch hour for complaining about my food being cold and I was simply trying to inquire the type of chafing dish they use. The food service is beyond reprehensible and the employee needs to learn how to be professional in their place of work,” said Sharifah Matthew, biology major.

The dining hall meals are predictable every day. There isn’t any variety or options on a daily basis. They often serve the same baked chicken that they served for lunch at dinner. Most students take the food and throw it in the garbage or go to the grill section which is not healthy.

There aren’t many healthy choices for lunch or dinner. Some students may even have health concerns such as high blood pressure, but there aren’t any low sodium food options for them.

Baked chicken served in UVI St. Thomas cafeteria. Antoinette Anderson
Baked chicken served in UVI St. Thomas cafeteria.
Antoinette Anderson

“I was hospitalized during the spring semester of 2013 due to food poisoning from eating curry tofu from the dining hall and I received nothing but excuses from the dining hall manager. The on-campus nurse also dismissed my case when I requested to be removed from the meal plan,” stated Zubida O’Neal.

Students deserve and expect to eat from the cafeteria without having to worry about food making them sick.

It is imperative that the University of the Virgin Islands takes action to improve and start providing students with an inexpensive meal plan with good food. The university’s cafeteria food lacks variety and options for students on campus. And to top it off, they provide expensive, low quality food and keep bad hours.The university often speaks about creating a campus culture and promoting student involvement. However, the first step is being promptly responsive to all student ideas or complaints by taking affirmative action.

College life got you down?

The Struggles of Being a College Student

Denae Fleming|

ST.CROIX— College students face the struggles of dealing with finances, personal life and staying focused through the different types of stress.

There is a lot that has to be considered when it comes to making those decisions to acquire a higher level of education to better one’s future. No doubt everyone would and should want to achieve educational heights, but for many, there are some obstacles that can get in the way and cause the journey to become quite a challenge.

Finances are one of the top reasons for students quitting or taking a break from college, especially for the vast majority of students who are low income African Americans and Hispanics.

Even with numerous announcements of financial aid that are being advertised and spread, some students find it difficult to really handle the demands of school.

“There were times when I literally ate nothing but Easy Mac and Ramen Noodle,” Marcos Castillo said.

Castillo was one of the many who left the island of St. Croix for the mainland in hopes of pursuing a degree that he was passionate about. He has now graduated from Columbus College for Arts and Design with his bachelor’s degree.

“Some kids don’t think about the other stuff. They just want to go to college and experience the fun aspects of college life, but don’t ever really think about the scary parts,” Castillo said.

Castillo had to deal with living in a place that was completely new to him. He had to deal with different personalities, find means of transportation, figure out how he would eat every day, earn funds for necessities we normally take for granted when we don’t have to get them on our own.

He had to deal with those factors along with studying for school and dealing with his personal life.

One might read this example and say, “Oh that comes with the territory of college life.” But, do we ever stop to think how overwhelming it might be for some individuals?

Code Red! Work Overload!  Photo credit: www.plymouthsouth.com, Tis the Season to be Stressed.
Code Red! Work Overload!
Photo credit: http://www.plymouthsouth.com, Tis the Season to be Stressed.

People go through life changing events that occur around their college years, especially those that go straight from high school into college. Many take on relationships, part-time jobs, and go through a period of figuring out who they are. They are just finding out what’s important, maybe discovering their spirituality, and even who they are able to trust.

These are normal processes until they go wrong for some students.

The relationship that was once beautiful turned sour and has an emotional toll on both parties.

The job that was okay in the beginning is becoming demanding and overwhelming on top of school work.

You start to question your choice in major and worry if this is the direction you really want to take.

There's much more than school work that is going on in the life of students. Photo credit: theprgirlblog.wordpress.com,  Stress | The PR Girl
There’s much more than school work that is going on in the life of students.
Photo credit: theprgirlblog.wordpress.com, Stress | The PR Girl

You are pressured by “friends” to do things you’re not too comfortable doing, like drugs and alcohol. For those who already got caught up in drugs and alcohol, it’s a distraction in school and you find a hard time pulling away from it.

There are many factors that contribute to the stress that college students go through. How they handle is what is important because stress will always be a factor in life, whether you are in school or not.

I created a random question survey on the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. When asked, 11 out of 20 students said they listen to music if they are feeling overly stressed out. Four out of the 20 said they stop whatever they are doing and go for a walk or some form of physical activity. Three out of 20 said they go for drinks and two out of the 20 said they simply break down and cry depending on how severe the situation.

There are healthy ways to cope with stressful things regardless of whether or not you are a student.

It’s always great to find a positive hobby that involves physical movements. You should have at least one person you can trust to vent your problems to and maybe even get positive advice from. Make sure the crowd you hang around or affiliate with is comprised of uplifting, motivating and positive people; if this is not so, you might need to reevaluate who you consider friends.

It’s okay to take time off when you are overworked. Your mental health and overall well-being is more important than any other factor that contributes to your life.

Relax.

Yes, it’s college and it should be taken seriously, but you need to give yourself permission to chill out. This only one of the many chapters in your life.