State of the University

By: Madison Watkins, A&E Editor

On Nov. 15, SGA held its semi-annual State of the University address in the Student Union Ballrooms. After listening to opening remarks from SGA president Jarvis Steele and Executive Vice President of the Armstrong campus Spencer Demink, the students and faculty members in attendance were ready to listen to what university executives had to say and ask them questions that have been on the minds of many students.

After the opening words by Steele and Demink, the Interim President of GSU Shelley Nickel stepped forward to say a few words to those in attendance and give her thoughts on the current semester.

“We’ve gone through a consolidation and it’s been difficult. I do believe it was the right thing to do. I believe [the school] will be a stronger university because of it… There are some inequities between campuses. We are working through the issues and we’ll have some answers for you tonight…. We need your help as well… We aren’t going to grow as a complete university until we get to know each other and grow together… I also encourage you all to take part in the strategic planning committee.”

Next up, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Carl Reiber, stepped up to introduce himself and discuss the recent issues involving registration.

“There are things that did get missed in the consolidation. The only way we can find out about those things is when you point them out… One of the things that came to our attention was that there were courses that filled up here quicker than we thought… WINGS didn’t specify for some classes which campus they would be on. We’ve been trying to correct that error as quickly as possible… You should be able to do what you need to do as efficiently as possible… If you don’t tell me what the problems are, I can’t help you. If you get in touch with me through your advisor or a faculty member or knocking on my door, we can address the problem.”

After Dr. Rieber was finished speaking, the floor was open to the students and staff members who had questions they would like answered.

The first question came from a theater performance major asking about the rumors concerning the upcoming spring commencement and where it would be located.

A teacher who was part of the panel of staff members in attendance to answer questions spoke up. “A decision has not been made yet. We’re working through that. We have put together some different proposals that we’re looking through. One of the proposals you’ve heard about is one where you’d graduate with your college at a certain campus. We’ll look at it as a whole, keeping in mind the student experience, and let you know as soon as we can.”

The next two students asked questions about issues with registration regarding their majors. They faced scheduling issues where some of the major classes they needed to take would overlap. One of the students was an art major and since many of the art major classes last longer than normal, she had trouble finding classes that would fit in her schedule. Dr. Rieber had the students write down their contact information and he assured them he would be meeting with the deans of their colleges soon to fix the problem.

The next student asked a question about an issue that is giving many student-veterans trouble. He had trouble finding the classes he needed that the VA would cover. He had been a veteran for 23 years but hadn’t been to school in a long time. A math teacher of his told him that he needed to go back and take college algebra so he could fully understand what was being discussed in the class he was in. However, he stated that the VA won’t pay for a class he’s already taken.

Dr. Rieber said in response, “You can take a placement test called the ACCUPLACER, that tells us which math class you should go into… We’ll have to work one-on-one with you. We have ways we can help you where you can brush up on your math skills so you don’t have to take college algebra again and take the next class you’re supposed to take that the military will reimburse you.”

The next student asked why there was new furniture being placed in the Student Union when budgets for student organizations and the hours for tutoring services were being cut.  

Robert Whitaker, the Vice President for Business and Finance, stood up to address the student and everyone else in attendance.

“[That furniture] along with redoing some of the furniture in the student center, there was painting being done, new carpeting, there was a lot of different renovation, repairs, upgrades that we wanted to do and those were funds out of last year’s budget… That’s just part of our year-end process to keep the campuses up and looking nice.”

Whitaker then moved on to a topic that has been on the minds of many students- food services.

Whitaker started off with an apology saying, “I apologize to you, the students. We did not meet your expectations… We’ve heard you loud and clear and we’re going to do everything we can to correct that and move forward…  I can confirm that we knew it was going to take some time to renovate the space downstairs and get the Chick-fil-A in there. We didn’t do a good job of letting you know that and know that was the expectation. When we started the fall semester obviously we didn’t have enough services, didn’t have enough options in the Gus Mart. We heard you and hopefully you see those things have started to change in there…”

Then he announced some long-awaited news concerning the Gus Mart hours. Whitaker confirmed that they will cut the Galley hours back one hour and increase the Gus Mart hours until 10 pm. Gus Mart will also be open on Saturdays from 12 – 8 pm. The changed hours will take effect at the beginning of spring semester.

Concerning Chick-fil-A, Whitaker confirmed that Chick-fil-A is slated to be done on January 12.

The deli that will be right next to it will “probably not be ready until a month or two after the beginning of spring semester” said Whitaker. The reason being there is currently a design quandary in the back kitchen area.

Whitaker went on to say about the upcoming Starbucks that “they’re currently doing some site visits and hopefully it will be open in August of 2019.”

In response to a question from a student-worker from the Liberty campus about a possible Gus Mart there, Whitaker stated, “there is conversation about that. We don’t have plans yet but we’ve heard that that’s something the campus and the students want… It may not happen in the spring but something may be started by the fall semester.”

He also stated that there are plans in motion to redesign some parts of the kitchen areas in the Galley. Mainly to replace the dishwasher that’s in the server area because the one that’s in there keeps on breaking and that is why students have to frequently use paper plates and cups.

If you have other questions you would like answered, you can send emails to the people named above, attend the weekly SGA meetings at 12:15 pm on Mondays in the Student Union Ballroom, or get in touch with us about a possible story that we can look into.