Jameson Champion | Nov. 2
Student concerns regarding rising tuition was a major point of discussion at Florida Southern College’s semesterly Town Hall on Nov. 1, alongside questions regarding the re-introduced Junior Journey program and new announcements to the student body.
Attendance to the event was bolstered by a recent policy announced at SGA Presidents’ Circle. All Presidents of SGA-recognized organizations must attend at least one Town Hall event per year, otherwise risking a penalty.
Inflation driving food and maintenance costs up
Dr. Kerr claimed that the rising prices on campus are due to a variety of factors, including inflation.
Alongside the nationwide increase in minimum wage, FSC has also had to compete for employees against companies like Amazon, Kerr explained. This has resulted in the college’s wages increasing from roughly $11 to $15 in a short timespan. Inflation, which decreases the value of the U.S. dollar, has also increased the price of maintaining campus services, such as food prices or shuttle maintenance.
New payment plan for Junior Journeys is steep, student says
Another topic of note was Junior Journeys, having returned this fall semester and continuing into spring. Financial questions were prominent, namely the burdensome payment plans and the inability for graduating Seniors to receive travel stipends this year if they are unable to attend fall or spring Junior Journeys.
Provost Brad Hollingshead explained that many Junior Journeys are prepaid by FSC, and require large amounts of money upfront, dependent on student interest. Hollingshead went on to explain that travel stipends are no longer being offered due to a large variety of trips available to attend, and that the stipends were originally provided due to a complete inability for students to go on their Junior Journeys.
Director of Food Services addresses concern over meal plan
Tim Raible, Director of Food Services, also clarified student concerns regarding the new points system put in place on campus, explaining the reasoning behind removing roll-over points in favor of a ‘flex-dollar’ system. Raible cites issues caused by a large number of students who spent their remaining points in December, creating issues feeding campus.
“Money that was given in September was able to be used in December,” Raible said. “That throws off a lot of things… there were a lot of things that were created as a result of that roll-over.”
Simmons Center celebrates 10 years at FSC
Dr. Susan Freeman, Vice President of Student Life, made an important announcement regarding FSC’s celebration of the 10 year anniversary since the naming of the Simmons Center. It was announced that a convocation will be held Feb. 8, dedicated to Alabama attorney and civil rights leader Fred Grey.
At the convocation, Grey will be in attendance and receive an honorary doctorate, staying afterwards for a fireside chat. That evening, a concert will be held featuring CeCe Teneal, a Black activist and ‘Florida’s Singing Realtor’. On Feb. 9, Grey will also be hosting a book signing on campus.
Alongside this, it was also noted that the Simmons Center has been working quickly to fill the space left by the resignation of Vanessa Beckham, the former Director.
Board of Trustees are drafting a new plan for the college, including two new majors
Town Hall’s panel consisted of many of FSC’s policy-makers, including the college’s President, Dr. Anne Kerr, who made a statement about the college’s plans going into the future. Kerr announcement the Board of Trustees were finalizing a new strategic plan for the college going forwards.
These plans include launching two new majors in STEM, computer and electrical engineering, next year.
“I think that will be particularly helpful for our computer science students, but also some of our business students are excited about that, because they have interest in running those kinds of businesses, and maybe being entrepreneurs.” Dr. Kerr said.
Entrepreneurial outreach program aimed at making ideas reality
On the business side, an entrepreneurial outreach program is being introduced, intended to allow students with new ideas to be paired with other students to make ideas for businesses and products into realities.
Dr. Kerr relayed the story of one of FSC’s own students who developed a new safety device that will be able to track movement behind a user.
“She’s winning all kinds of investment money to go into this,” Dr. Kerr said. “So business students will help her take that forward as a company, and computer science students helped her develop the technology for [the device].”
New athletics center on the move
The new Adams Athletic Complex was also addressed, which will be constructed at the site of the former L. N. Pipkin Bandshell in order to provide new facilities and more space for student athletes in varsity and club sports. The space was also constructed as a way to reduce load on the Hollis Wellness Center.
The FSC golf program also received an expansion, a state-of-the-art clubhouse sponsored by Lone Palm Golf Club will be constructed to assist members of the Golf Team. It is also cited as a way to help the college meet Title IX requirements in ensuring equal opportunities for the Mens and Womens’ teams.
Director of Campus safety answers building access concerns
Eric Rauch, Director of Campus Safety, reiterated the college’s efforts to improve safety by making buildings accessible primarily via swipe-access. The card readers will work with current student-ID cards and allow free access to academic buildings from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students with evening classes will be granted entrance to class buildings according to their schedules.
New residence hall is in opening stages
One of the last questions to be answered involved new student residence halls, with Kerr announcing that the school was in the process of negotiating with an architectural firm about creating a third hall near Nicholas and Wesley.
“We are looking at that facility,” Dr. Kerr said. “Hopefully it would have about 100 beds there that we can bring that off in the future.”
Alongside this, it was also noted that the Simmons Center has been working quickly to fill the space left by the resignation of Vanessa Beckham.