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Monday, October 2, 2023


Forum gathers student ideas

Better labs, new equipment and the addition of Web technology classes were the subjects of concern for students Thursday at the annual College of Natural Science and Mathematics Town Hall meeting outside Science and Research Building 1.

Natural Science and Mathematics Student Government Association senators came together with faculty and students to confront issues and concerns as well as discuss coming campus events and renovations.

"The purpose of this meeting is to let students have a vote, understand (students’) concerns and help the students understand their college better," said Dawnelle Prince-Parks, director of Recruitment and Retention at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

New labs, better equipment and the addition of faculty are what NSM students and faculty are fighting for.

"We want to best prepare you for whatever your endeavor is in life," NSM Dean John L. Bear said.

Biology senior Jermeece Augustine’s concern on Thursday was what the college was doing to secure funds toward replacing equipment and renovating the organic chemistry labs.

"The organic chemistry lab in the Fleming (Building) needs repair, and the equipment is shabby," Augustine said. "I want to know how those funds can go toward replacing things."

Math and computer science junior Sean McKenzie posed a question on behalf Cougar CS, the UH computer science club.

"Why do computer science students have some of the slowest lab computers on campus?" McKenzie said.

Bear said the college is granted $65 million a year -†$20 million comes from the state of Texas, and the other $45 million comes from students.

The fight for new equipment is certainly not new. Bear said at the meeting, the "freshmen chemistry lab has the worst set of lab material."

"That equipment in the lab is 45 years old. We have been trying for many years to get better lab materials," Bear said.

But Bear also assured students that improvements and big changes are on the horizon.

The college of NSM was granted $57 million to renovate the Fleming Building and to start constructing a multi-story building for students and faculty in summer 2009. Each floor will focus on a specific scientific field, equipped with corresponding laboratories.

Another issue on student’s minds was that of research opportunities.

"I wanted to know if they are going to expand research opportunities to undergrad students," biology sophomore Elsa Vizcarra said.

Department Chair of Biology and Biochemistry Stuart Drye made it clear that for the research program to grow, it must recruit more faculty members.

Dryer said a new member would join the faculty in mid-January. With that in mind, Dryer reminded students that if they wanted to get involved in a research program, average students need not apply.

"We need motivated students to work in the labs and to do the research," said Dryer noting that faculty would not recruit students with low grade-point averages between 2.0 and 2.5.

Computer science junior Kaleb Fulgham expressed his concern for the lack of Web development courses available to students.

"Since it’s a Web tech rich era, why is UH lacking web development and web technology classes?" Fulgham said.

Bear said the format was chosen because of student reluctance to address their problems in person.

The annual NSM Town Hall, in its third year, proved to be something of importance to students.

The biggest reason: "To make students voices heard. This is an opportunity for students to express their views in a way they are directly heard because these are deans and academic faculty, and they have a big impact," said biology senior and SGA NSM Sen. Jamie Xu.

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