First Year Council hopes to acquire information to improve freshman programs

Christine Lee, Laura Preby, Life Editor, Photography Editor


Student Development has created a new committee called the First-Year Student Advisory Council.  The council, composed of 10 freshmen of different majors, residents, commuters and athletes and non-athletes, is designed to give advice to student affairs about the first-year experience.

Associate Dean of Student Development Dr. Phil Ruthkosky says the mission of the first-year council is to learn more about first year student experiences in an open and ongoing dialogue.

“The point is to ask students open-ended questions and get a sense of how they feel about what they’re experiencing academically and socially,” says Ruthkosky.

The staff includes Ruthkosky, Dean of Students Mark Allen, Learning Center Coordinator Karen Riley and Director of Residence Life Liz Swantek. Mentoring and Internship Coordinator Sharon Castano and Activities Assistant Jamie Miller serve as co-chairs and organize meetings.

“The idea is the more we learn about what (first-year) students are experiencing when they come into college the more we’ll be able to enhance our programs and services,” Ruthkosky says.

Freshman international studies major Kayla Rooney, who is living on campus, is one first-year student chosen to be part of the council.

Rooney mentions that at their first council meeting, which was held around fall break, she was asked about her experiences at orientation and campus first-year housing.

“They asked if we enjoyed orientation, if we participated in the activities, if we went to the events and residence life asked if we attend our hall meetings and events,” Rooney says.

Freshman biology major Megan Neri, who is commuting, says she has taken the time to talk to her fellow first-year students and gotten their inputs on activities.

“The council brings everyone together, especially commuters as it can be hard for them to get themselves out there,” Neri says. “Everyone had a good input on how they wanted to change things and it gets students closer.”

Ruthkosky says the council gives first-year students the opportunity to feel they have a valued voice in the community and Student Development listens to what they are saying and takes them into account.

“We hope that this becomes another asset that (Wilkes) is using to acquire the knowledge we need to learn about our students.”