Campus Master Plan – First Open Forum

By: Madison Watkins, A&E Editor

The first open forum for staff and students concerning the upcoming Campus Master Plan was held on Tuesday, Oct. 2 in the Ogeechee Theater.

Representatives from Sasaki Associates, Inc., the interdisciplinary planning and design firm that will be managing the process, and Carol Cox, the Director of Operations for the Armstrong and Liberty Campuses, were in attendance ready to ask students for their input.

Since there was only one reporter in attendance, Cox and the representatives from Sasaki Associates, Inc. sat down with me to talk about why and how this plan is coming together and asked for my input.

Cox opened with, “[with this plan moving forward] now we’re thinking of what we want this campus to look like and the university as a whole.”

The company Sasaki Associates, Inc. also oversaw the master plan for Armstrong State University that was completed in 2016. The two representatives from this company, Tyler Patrick and Nicole Friend, told me, “[the plan] will be a year-long effort. A lot of the changes we implemented when it was Armstrong will be kept the same. We plan to accommodate spaces for the new staff and students for the university. We have to be able to understand what the goals are under consolidation and appropriately plan for the requisite spaces to accommodate them. What we’ve heard very loud and clear from leadership is that when it comes to the student experience, there are going to be elements about each of the campuses that contribute to a unique experience but at the same time leadership wants an overall allegiance and affinity for Georgia Southern so that there are common elements to the experience no matter which campus you’re on that contribute to a shared sense of identity and we don’t know what shape that will take. We want to understand some of the cultural implications of what consolidation means and how students experience that and how we embrace it.”

They wanted to know what aspects of the student experience have changed (good and bad) that I have noticed since the consolidation. I said that there are more event opportunities, which is good but the general feeling on campus among students and teachers is more negative than it has been in the past.

Patrick was curious about how often the thought of going to Statesboro for events came up in my mind. Personally, I rarely think about going to Statesboro. Most of the events don’t interest me enough to drive an hour away even with the transportation buses.

He also observed from what I was saying that there is a sense of miscommunication that we all are feeling, to which I enthusiastically agreed with.

Then they asked if there were things I’d like to see improved concerning the day-to-day student experience that they should be aware of. I told them that even though two more restaurants are coming, some people are frustrated we don’t have many dining options open at the moment.

They also asked what the main locations were where students spent the most of their time outside of class to which I responded with the Student Union, the learning commons, and the library, with the learning commons being the most popular.

Then they asked how I would like to see the quality of on campus recreation increase and I recommended it would be nice to have a pool again. The rec center could also be expanded upon.

They also asked what I would like to see changed in terms of layout on campus and I believe the campus is fine the way it is. If enrollment numbers go up, then academic buildings, the learning commons, or the library could be expanded upon but my main point was that I want to be able to recognize this place whenever I come back in 5 or 10 years. I want that familiar feeling to still be there.

There will be other opportunities coming up for students to voice their opinion on the Campus Master Plan. There will be more meetings, and surveys will be advertised and sent out through email so students can have their input.