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Fireside Chat 2.0

By Ruby Churchill

Another Fireside Chat of the semester is upon us, with an interesting twist.

Image by Jacob Greene

Hold onto your textbooks! A riveting Fireside Chat rolled into town on February 27, 2024. The Student Union transformed into a cozy haven. Students flocked in for a night of airing grievances and indulging in the legendary cookies of Alison Hall.

The scene was set with an oblong circle of seats occupied by none other than President Norman Hall, Student President Brandon Hall, Sarah Jobson, and other staff. Natalie Goens set the tone with a prayer—then Dr. Hall took the stage. He spoke about an aviation major, a master's nursing program, and fundraising for a fancy new business and engineering building.

“Here’s a couple of updates. The STEM building, we finally raised 7.2 million dollars...the last three years we fundraised about thirty million dollars. Students at Simpson, about 99% get aid, on average 52% get tuition scholarships. That’s a big thing,” Hall said.

Athletics and other future activities like beach volleyball are underway as well.

“With athletics, we’re about two clicks below the national average on scholarships for athletics, that’s also something I’m really pleased with,” Hall said.

Dr. Hall then transitioned to a commentary on the history of college founder A. B. Simpson, as well as his own personal journey.

“When I came here, I felt a calling from God, to serve at Simpson University and to move it to a place of this unyielding, unapologetic faith in Jesus,” Hall said

Now, here’s the twist: Last Fireside Chat, students were summoned to take part in the Student Satisfaction Survey. 14,000 nationally participated, including 137 of our very own Red Hawks. Armed with the results, Sarah Jobson took the lead to reveal what students really think about campus life.

The strengths of Simpson University include campus life, safety, tutoring, athletic programs, and weekend activities.

“These are the things friends, that students say are important to me and I’m satisfied in them…with academics, your advisor’s approachable. That’s good, that’s a strength. What else? Tutoring services are readily available, that’s great. Faculty are available during office hours, I keep hearing that,” Jobson said.

Jobson then transitioned into some of the university’s weaknesses.

“Admissions staff are knowledgeable, and admissions accurately portrays the campus in their recruiting practices…there are our challenges.”

Jobson then asked what the experiences of students were, and a few gave their responses. One student spoke up and explained that perhaps athletes are not getting adequate tours of campus if they tour with a coach rather than admissions personnel.

“If people don’t know who the admissions counselors are...not all sports require their tour to be with an admissions counselor,” they said.

Another challenge was the lack of timely feedback provided by professors. Students complained about email abysses where assignments went to hibernate until midterms. It was suggested that professors should provide comments at least weekly on assignments.

“I think for me, emails are great, but I don’t even get my assignments graded until like midterms or end of the semester. And you turn in like 3 or 4 assignments a week and you’re doing things wrong, you don’t know that they wanted it different,” a student said.

Also mentioned was the lack of communication between the departments of Student Accounts and Financial Aid, leading to issues with charges. One student explained that they had problems with being charged too much on their account.

“I had to keep going to each one separately, they could have solved that by communicating to each other. That’s where the big issue lies, there’s lackluster communication between those two…” they said.

Other topics unfolded—maintenance requests, dorm room mysteries, cafeteria food adventures, and more. In the end, another Fireside Chat wrapped up, leaving the community closer than ever.

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