IUP President Michael Driscoll was a guest at the Feb. 26 SGA meeting.

The Feb. 26 Student Government Association (SGA) meeting featured an open discussion with IUP President Michael Driscoll and focused on student retention, as well as student engagement once new students get to campus. 

Driscoll said that near the top of importance in terms of helping with retention is making sure students feel “part of the community” and that they can effectively “build connection and engagement with others.” 

This segued into discussion about the cost of meal plans and students who live on campus. Driscoll said that some of the reasons for Aramark not making much money at IUP is attributed to students living off campus. 

He also attributed a lot of student success to being ingrained in the college culture.

“Students who live on campus have a higher [average] GPA,” Driscoll said. “Students tightly connected to campus tend to be more successful.” 

He also said that students with a meal plan tended to have a more balanced diet. 

Another drawback to student social success is the setup of the newer residence halls. While the suites are more attractive to prospective students then the old dorms, they have a drawback in how they tend to isolate people with students staying in their rooms, Driscoll said.

“[We need] to figure out what will get people out of their rooms,” Driscoll said. 

Administration is trying to improve the early student experience and offer more support for those just arriving to help with retention. Driscoll said the most important time for student retention is in the first three months.

The meeting also featured Elaine Wood, APSCUF student liaison, discussing the possibility of a joint event between APSCUF and SGA. She said that the event could possibly be a cookoff or board game night with faculty and would be designed to encourage students to interact with faculty. 

“[It’d] create the atmosphere that we’re all in this together,” Wood said. 

Her presentation also mentioned cards that students could fill out in support of the “PA Promise” that would then be sent out to Gov. Tom Wolf. 

Nathan Zisk, SGA treasurer, gave an update on the logo design. It’s now a competition between students with a prize of Subway gift cards. 

SGA also voted to recognize the “Ranger Challenge” club as a formal on campus organization, and three students were confirmed for senate positions. 

Those students were Isatu Weaver, senator for Greek life; Noah Saylor, senator for the honors college; and Jessica Bulkley, on-campus senator.

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