Claim school’s failure to fill vacant development officer position affects campus life
Betty-Lou Pretty had hoped increased public pressure on the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) to fill its vacant student development officer position at the Placentia campus would encourage the school to take action.
© — Submitted photo
Students at the College of the North Atlantic’s Placentia campus gathered Thursday to protest the post-secondary’s institution’s failure to fill its student development officer position.
But following multiple media reports on the matter and a protest held Thursday in the community, the first-year student said there appears to be nothing new to report.
Students say the absence of a student development officer at the college affects the quality of campus life. Pretty said there is nobody available to oversee the peer tutoring program, student council elections, the formation of volunteer clubs and applications for scholarships and awards.
Pretty also said there are students who have been forced to drop out of school over issues with the student loan process and that those students would typically go to the student development officer (SDO) for help.
The position has been vacant since June. According to Pretty, the previous person to hold that position left to accept another job.
At Thursday’s protest, fellow first-year student Tyler Whelan said students will continue to hold demonstrations until the position is filled.
A counsellor based at the Carbonear campus has worked at the Placentia campus every Thursday to handle some student development officer duties, but Whelan and Pretty both said that arrangement is insufficient.
Pretty wrote to CNA president and CEO Ann Marie Vaughn about the matter earlier this month and received a response by email, but it failed to clarify whether changes to the current situation are forthcoming, she said.
Subject to review
Elizabeth Chaulk, associate vice-president of learner services for CNA, said the student development officer position’s future is one of many jobs subject to an administrative review.
“In that review process, we’re looking at all of our positions, and once that process is completed, then some decisions will be made,” said Chaulk.
That review became necessary following the most recent provincial budget, which cut millions of dollars of the college’s funding. Vaughn has previously stated it will need to identify as much as $4 million in savings.
As for the arrangement involving the counsellor, Chaulk said that employee is assigned half-time to Placentia, but works there for only one day each week due to the identified demand for his services. She added that has been the arrangement for a number of years.
Chaulk said the duties of counsellors overlap with those of the student development officer, with financial issues being a common connector between the two jobs.
“There are a number of resources available to that campus, not just the counsellor,” she said. “There’s actually an SDO who’s regional in nature, and that SDO has been assigned to a number of campuses, and that person has been going to Placentia and also can be called in on an ongoing, as-needed basis.”
As CNA staff are tasked with serving the needs of students, there are several employees students can go to in Placentia if an issue needs to be addressed, Chaulk said.
“If that person can’t help, then that person can refer the student to somebody in the system, whether it be locally, regionally or provincially, to get assistance.”