by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Assistant Editor
Although the Robert Morris and Roosevelt University (RU) integration was officially announced at the beginning of March 2020, students at Robert Morris said that they still feel that there’s a division between the schools –– which they’re hoping for new changes to address.
The Higher Learning Commission officially agreed to a joint-school integration where Robert Morris students would come to Roosevelt University as Roosevelt students. However, they have been a part of a separate school within RU that is recognized as Robert Morris Experiential College (RMEC).
Since then, new branches of learning have been established – such as nursing and culinary arts. On top of that, new sports teams, such as football, have also been a part of the growing integration.
However, staff members spoke on some difficulties that they’ve encountered since the integration began.
“The beginning stages were a bit off-putting due to the fact that the learning curve was made a bit more stressful and challenging due to its remote nature. However, time has proved to be the great healer of off-site learning,” said Rosana Wilson, assistant director of Financial Aid Services.
Wilson also said that she’s had issues with technological glitches. “With this merger, I had the opportunity to meet new colleagues, new processes and a new culture which I have enjoyed but not without its glitches.”
“One of the more difficult aspects of the integration has been the actual data integration between the two universities and the unforeseen obstacles that have come up over the past year,” said Chip Seiple, an undergraduate academic advisor at RU, adding that they’re working on glitches that are appearing in students’ courses in Degree Works.
Students also spoke on issues that they’ve had within the sports programs at RU.
Karissa Williams, a RMEC senior majoring in criminal justice and a softball player at RU, explained that she disliked the division within the sports teams.
“They refer to us as the ‘RMU girls’ and say that we are clique-y, but we don’t feel welcomed, even by some of our teammates.”
However, Williams said that she liked the new athletic gear that they received. She also said that she liked how the coaching staff makes sure that they’re okay, both mentally and physically.
“You can tell that they actually care about us, even if they do treat us a little different,” Williams said.
Jalisa Ferguson, a senior business administration and management major at RMEC, also said that she felt divided within the communities.
“The merger is not very successful in my opinion because some of the students don’t know how to properly merge, and it was very last minute and unorganized.”
However, both students and staff spoke on changes they hope to see in the future.
Williams explained that she would like to see more connections with people. “I know it’s hard with COVID-19, but as we’re still practicing together every day, I still feel like we should be able to do more stuff — even as a school itself, not just sports.”
“For students that are still here, it would probably be good if they made this whole Robert Morris thing just Roosevelt in general. It shouldn’t be Robert Morris Experiential College; just make it Roosevelt,” said Ferguson, who will be graduating in the spring.
Seiple also said that she would like to see a continued increase in the academic options for students. “As of now, none of the former RMU majors have an option for a minor. I trust that minors in some of these areas will be available to students, maybe as soon as this fall.”
Students and staff also spoke on how well they think the integration is going.
Lisa Contreras, an associate vice president of technology administration at RU, said that she thinks the integration is going great so far.
“At the same time the city and much of our country enacted ‘stay-at-home’ orders because of COVID-19, moving equipment, merging data and giving former RMUI students more online resources made it easier for them to join the RU community.”
“Besides being close neighbors with similar missions, staff from both institutions shared and reviewed business processes and chose what they thought was best,” she said.
Contreras also said that the “integration was a win-win for all students at both institutions.”
“It expanded the variety of majors and pathways available to students and provided new educational opportunities for everyone. As a lifelong learner myself, it has been fun to be a part of this educational experience,” she said.
“One great advantage that the integration has brought about has been the increase in majors that RU students have to choose from,” said Seiple, adding that she has seen both RU and RMU students recently change their former majors to majors that weren’t previously available to them.
“I think that this change alone has expanded the opportunities for students.”
“I think there are more options for majors than there were at Robert Morris, and for the athletic side, the merger helped,” said Rebecca Bluder, a junior exercise sport studies major at RMEC and a softball player at RU.
In fact, Bluder said that RU’s softball team just made history by breaking the school’s record with a 7-1 winning game streak.
“I’m happy, there’s nothing for me to complain about besides the whole ‘RMU girl’ thing. But at the end of the day, we’re all wearing Roosevelt jerseys, so I don’t see the whole separation thing,” said Bluder.
“It’s my fondest wish that when the merger is a mere memory, we feel as one, and that the university benefits from the efforts we have put forth as an organization,” said Wilson.