A week after Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett announced that Huntsman Hall will no longer be open 24 hours, students are continuing to push back in a variety of forceful ways, from penning a petition that has garnered over 500 signatures to arranging a protest scheduled for Sept. 6.
According to reports from some students, this dissatisfaction should come as no surprise to Wharton administrators. When they consulted students on the proposal months ago, many reportedly said they did not think it was a good idea.
In recent statements, Wharton administrators have said that the decision to change the building's hours came after numerous "collaborative discussions" with students.
“Wharton administrators actively sought input from student leaders before coming to this decision,” wrote Vice Dean and Director of the Wharton Undergraduate Division Lori Rosenkopf in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “After numerous collaborative discussions both planned and impromptu, we collectively decided this change would help encourage wellbeing among our students," she wrote.
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At this point, it is unclear how many discussions took place and to what extent this student feedback was taken into account when administrators made their final decision.
Wharton senior Danielle Clanaman, co-chair of the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board, was one of the several student leaders who discussed the proposal with administrators last semester.
She said a select group of Wharton undergraduate student leaders were asked to meet with Garrett and other Wharton administrators to discuss several Wharton wellness initiatives toward the end of the spring semester.
Wharton spokesperson Peter Winicov connected the DP to Clanaman but did not address questions asking for a list of students or student groups involved in discussions on the topic.
Clanaman said the meeting was focused on improving wellness in general and did not center around the change to Huntsman's closing hours. However, she also added that when the initiative was mentioned, students made their disapproval known.
“[There was] no voting, just discussion … the Dean had a few things he wanted to talk through about how he thought we could improve wellness at Wharton,” Clanaman said.
When Garrett suggested changing the hours of Huntsman, it was not received positively by students present at the meeting, Clanaman said.
“The hours were originally more constrained and we pushed back on that, saying this wouldn’t be advisable for x, y, z reasons, and [the administrators] listened and engaged,” Clanaman said. “I think that all of us pushed back on different components of it just to understand where [the] administration was coming from and kind of to pre-empt some of the concerns that people might have.”
The concerns voiced by students after last week’s announcement are similar to the pushback student leaders at the meeting expressed months ago, Clanaman said, describing them as “very similar conversations.”
Student leaders from Wharton Council and Wharton Wellness were also present at the meeting with Wharton administrators, but declined to provide immediate comment on the extent of their involvement in the round table and their thoughts on the final decision.
“We need to maintain the confidence of those who attended meetings. It was a dialogue between the students and Dean Garrett on this ongoing effort,” wrote Carolina Zuluaga, co-chair of Wharton Council and Wharton senior, in an email to the DP.
The new policy to close Huntsman at 2 a.m. everyday was announced as part of a wider effort to improve wellness, but students have disagreed that the initiative will address the root cause of students' challenges with stress and sleep deprivation.