Petition to ‘fix the old buildings first’ receives over 1,600 signatures in four days

Pictured is the damage at Merrill Hall shortly after the devastating EF-3 tornado that affected Jacksonville State University and the city of Jacksonville on March 19, 2018. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)Pictured is the damage at Merrill Hall shortly after the devastating EF-3 tornado that affected Jacksonville State University and the city of Jacksonville on March 19, 2018. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Ashleigh Crouch, News Correspondent

A petition for Jacksonville State University to ‘fix the old buildings first’ has gained over 1,600 signatures in just four days.

The petition, created by Hannah Robinson, a special education major at JSU, states that the university should fix old buildings before beginning new projects.

This petition stems from the newly approved $26 million dining hall, which was announced at a recent Board of Trustees meeting. It calls for the university to use money set aside to fix the old buildings on campus before starting new projects. 

Specifically, the petition cites Mason, Merrill and Wallace Halls as buildings that need to be prioritized before a new dining hall is built. The petition also notes the lack of parking on campus, and claims that building a new facility would only take away from the already limited parking spots available to students that commute. 

Robinson states that through the petition she wants the students to have a voice, and the board to actually listen to it.

Robinson said that there are a multitude of issues on campus that could be taken care of before any new projects are started, and feels that the board should prioritize the issues that actually concern students.

“If the board is going to force students to pay for something we don’t actually need, the buildings that actually contribute something to our education needs to be the first priority that needs to be done before any new things are brought upon students,” said Robinson.

On Tuesday, October 22, the JSU Board of Trustees met for their quarterly meeting. The board voted to renew the school’s contract with Sodexo as the dining company for the university.

As part of the agreement with Sodexo, the university agreed to build a brand new $26 million dining hall on campus that would require all commuters to purchase a $275 meal plan. 

The details of the new dining facility have not yet been finalized according to the university. 

“Until a final contract is negotiated, with the help of Dr. King and Mr. Herrera, all terms are simply proposals,” said Jim Brigham, JSU’s vice president of finance and administration. “We will benchmark our food service plans with other Alabama universities and focus on getting affordable plans and value for all of our students.”

As soon as students heard of this possible new dining facility, and the fee that would come along with it, many expressed their outrage. 

Social media blew up with memes poking fun at the board’s decisions, and students started forming plans to take action as well.

Students are currently in the process of planning a protest to take place in front of Bibb Graves Hall sometime next week in response to the proposed new dining facility. 

The date of the protest has not yet been finalized, and protest organizer Keeley Tibbits is currently looking for a recognized campus organization to sponsor the protest in order to receive a permit.

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