Miranda Prescott, Correspondent
The Student Government Association at Jacksonville State University hosted a town hall meeting on Wednesday, February 5. Students were given an opportunity to meet with JSU administrators and the SGA to answer their questions after the quarterly Board of Trustees meeting last month.
The meeting was conducted with student questions being answered by a panel of JSU administrators and others. Among the panelists were Dr. Don Killingsworth, the president of the JSU; Terry Casey, vice president of student affairs; Dr. Tim King, vice president of student success; Ulises Herrera, SGA president; Christie Shelton, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Micheal Boynton, JSU drama professor and head of the faculty senate; and James Brigham, senior vice president for finance and administration.
“We welcome all questions asked,” said Herrera.
Questions that were posed to the panel included healthier food options for the upcoming dining hall that is planned.
“There will be menus and particular food selections to accommodate for allergies and specialty diets,” said Brigham. “Let’s not wait on this new cafeteria for new food options. If you have any requests, let us know.”
Brigham also said that the timeline for the new dining hall would be approximately two years or more. Students will be getting surveys in the near future to ask for their feedback as to what they would like to see within this new facility.
The contract with Sodexo is also being negotiated with the legal teams, including earlier and later hours for service.
The commuter plan is also being negotiated with Sodexo as well. Once the contract is settled, a new system of flex dollars for commuting freshman known as Cocky Bucks will be implemented.
“Each year, we will add a year on, but students will be able to purchase them on their own outside of this,” said Brigham. “First requirement will be those commuter freshman.”
Cocky Bucks will act as an alternate for flex dollars. There are currently talks to expand into other businesses outside of campus, including alternatives to food for spending on the plan.
“I am going to guarantee that you will spend it,” said Brigham. “If the money is not used at all, you will get it all back when you graduate.”
Businesses will not be signed up for this program until the contract with Sodexo is finalized.
Another question was posed regarding the current bus system. The current buses were received in 2009 and 2012, and “were not meant for the slower routes they are currently taking,” according to Brigham. “The use of these routes are declining steadily. We are going to work steadily to make these routes more efficient.”
“When I was a student here, we did not have a bus system,” said Casey. “Revamping these bus systems will help commuters getting around on campus.
Questions about Mason Hall were posed as well. “We are scheduled to be moving in around March 7,” said Shelton. “They are already in phase one of moving as of right now. There are two professors already teaching classes there.”
Parking solutions were also mentioned during the meeting. During an interview with The Chanticleer last year, Killingsworth said that his administration is considering moving to a two-zone parking system and to expand parking on campus. He later confirmed that the university is moving forward with those plans.
“We are making strides on revamping our parking system to implement a two-zone parking system in the fall.” said Killingsworth.
Killingsworth explained that the two-system parking will be sectioned with one zone for faculty and one zone for students. Colors to identify the zones will be decided on a later date. Parking will be on a first come, first serve basis with the new system.
Currently, there are approximately 6000 parking spaces on campus, according to Killingsworth. Parking decal prices will not increase with the new system being implemented.
“It is still being questioned as to the location, but it is almost time for one to be built.” said Killingsworth, in reference to a possible parking deck.
Stephenson Hall came into question as well. Currently, the building is being shared by athletics and kinesiology, according to Shelton. Classrooms, offices, and other buildings are being remodeled to benefit students in the kinesiology department. “The athletic folks will continue to share this space with them,” said Shelton.
Sidewalks and street lamps are also being repaired and replaced.
“We are on a timeline for those to be finished in April,” said Brigham. “We are putting them up as fast as they are delivered.”
JSU administrators have an “open-door policy,” according to Brigham. “If students have questions or concerns, they are more than welcome to approach us.”
University officials said that there will be a town hall meeting after every quarterly Board of Trustees meeting to field questions from students.