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Pacers Proclaim Their Thoughts Through SGA Town Hall

Ethan McElvaney

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The Student Government Association hosted a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15. There was a group of five staff members from the university hat attended to answer over the 20+ questions that were asked about student life on campus.

The panel was hosted from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Legget Theater. Peace students wrote their ideas on ways that the student life department can make the social aspects of Peace better than they were before on a note card.

These thoughts were then read aloud by a moderator. The questions were answered by a panel of various campus figures, including President of Student Involvement Austin Arias and Vice President of Student Involvement Frank Rizzo.

Members of the SGA also aided in the discussion by clarifying some of the opportunities on campus that are similar to what students suggested or how they can address student concerns.

Student’s questions and suggestions ranged from asking if student life could put on a homecoming concert to expanding the resources available to several different types of students.

Many of the answers involved changes being made to campus that were announced at the State of the University Address, student life’s financial concerns, and the practicality of the suggestions.

The main takeaways were the fact that WPU will be restructuring its campus to provide new buildings for arts and technology as well as a new parking garage.  There will not be a major homecoming concert due to budget restraints, and funding for events and clubs on campus comes down to how many students the activity/event will reach.

Rizzo says that he did his best to answer everyone’s questions, yet he felt that many of them were ones that he had to delve into more.

“I was not aware of the questions in advance, so I was not always prepared to answer the questions, but I tried answering questions to the best of my knowledge,” said Rizzo, “For example, a student asked about adding a color copier to campus for student use. This is a great idea that I am now researching, but I did not have information to share at the moment.”

The event was assembled by SGA’s Chief Administrative Officer Nasjere Williams. It helped that Williams had connections with the student involvement department.

“I work very closely with Austin Arias to make sure all the heads of the Student Life departments are there that can be,” said Williams. “An event planning form is filled out with all the information such as the amount of chairs needed. Audio equipment and so on.”

Williams believes that SGA Town Hall provides an important service to students at WPU by letting them talk directly to staff about their desires for improvements on campus.

“Town hall is an important experience [that] I think every student on campus should be involved in,” said Williams. “It’s a time for students to talk directly to administrators about what they would like to see on campus. It gives students another forum for their voices to be heard and hopefully show that faculty and staff want to strive to always make the student experience at William Peace better.”

Off-campus Peace junior Dean Willms felt that SGA Town Hall was an eye-opening experience that gave him more understanding on the inner-workings of student life and thought his concerns were addressed very well.

“I asked about places for commuters to hang out, study, or possibly sleep and stuff like that because before 2nd Belk was redesigned to be a study hall/cafe for Sandella’s, I used to have a lot of different kinds of couches and places to sleep; I know a lot of commuters like to be there,” said Wilms. “After hearing my request, I feel like they got me a better understanding of what they’re doing to accommodate those needs.”

Ameera Khattab, the president of SGA, felt quite honored to learn how she could help with the various needs of the WPU student body.

“As the SGA President, I am committed to making sure that the student body is heard,” said Khattab. “Being able to facilitate a candid conversation that answered many pressing questions was an honor. I love opportunities like this because in order to make campus life as vibrant as possible, we need feedback.”

Khattab also had many suggestions for how students can get further involved on campus helping students to  actively create the changes that they want to see.

“Check Peace Pulse. Come out to events. Meet student leaders. Ask anyone in student government council about how to start a student organization,” said Khattab,.“Even if Peace doesn’t offer any events or organizations that interest you, you can take charge of your student experience by starting an organization that does.”

SGA Vice President and SGA Town Hall panelist Ryan Echavarria highly recommends students get involved with forming their own town halls.

“Students are surely able to make a Town Hall! Just make sure you contact student services or the SGA for any assistance,” said Echavarria

While students are likely not going to get a massive concert anytime soon like many of them asked for at the town hall, staff said that there will be two new class buildings dedicated to technology and the arts, a new multi-tier parking garage, and additional soft seating in 2nd Belk to look forward to in the future.

“I think it’s incredible to see how much Peace has grown,” said Khattab. “As far as changes go, Peace will always be my alma mater. Whether changes happen now or ten years from now, I will always be proud of the constant improvements at Peace.”

Echavarria said that even though he wishes he could have stayed on campus to see some of WPU’s major changes come to fruition, he is still ecstatic to see how Peace’s campus will change once he’s graduated.

No matter what type of student one is, there has never been a greater time to be a Pacer.

“I truly believe in our strategic plan and I am very excited about our University Campus Master Plan,” said Rizzo. “It is a very exciting time to be a Pacer.”

Two Town Halls will be held each school year at WPU according to Williams. If students have any comments, questions, or suggestions, they can e-mail [email protected].

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Pacers Proclaim Their Thoughts Through SGA Town Hall