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Faulkner, cabinet address student concerns at forum

By Randall Barnes

Volunteer State Community College President Dr. Jerry Faulkner and his cabinet addressed questions from the Student Government Association and Vol State Students during Faulkner’s quarterly forum Thursday.

Questions such as, “Why was the switch to Outlook made during the middle of the semester?”—and—”Will privacy walls be added to the Maddix Building’s men’s bathroom?”—were answered during last week’s forum.

Before the forum began, President of the SGA, Preston Tatum, handed out slips that had written on them directions for submitting a question, annonymously. The slips read, “Ask Dr. Faulkner, the president of VSCC, and his cabinet questions anonymously from your phone! Step #1 go to Step #2: type in the event code (8484). Step #3: submit questions about the campus!”

The Speaker, SGA Attorney General Debera Bennett, started the event by introducing the president and his cabinet members.

The president and his cabinet sat no more than six feet away from the Student Government Association and spoke into microphones placed on cobalt-blue table covers. Faulkner’s cabinet is comprised of Beth Carpenter, Vice President for Business and Finance; Emily Short, Vice President for Student Services; George Pimentel, Vice President of Academic Affairs; Colette Cantania, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, Planning and Assessment. Faulkner sat in the middle of them.

After the introduction, the first question was asked: “Can privacy walls be added to the men’s bathroom in the Maddox Building?” Short answered, saying that it was next on the priority list.

Afterward, the question, “Gravel parking lots were used in the past, before parking lots were able to be built. Will those that remain share the same fate? Carpenter confirmed this should be the case.

One asked if one could opt out of ebooks. Pimentel answered yes after putting forth a joke that evoked laughter from over half the dining room. Pimentel wished this to be emphasized, stating, “You can opt out of DEI (digital books) if it is not an integrated product. For example: you can’t opt out of MY MATH LAB Plus; it does not have an alternative.”

A student’s question: ‘Is there a cheat sheet offered for classes? As in, a cheat sheet offered as a guide for navigating the difficulties of choosing a class based on each one’s difficulty.’ Pimentel answered, saying that class difficulty is subjective. Faulkner used an anecdote to deepen the point made, as well as—one assumes—to show that he understands.

One student inquired about the possibility of a recreational room being added in the future. It was stated that it will be looked into, but priorities are important.

“Why was the switch made to Outlook from Gmail made in the middle of the semester?” The switch was intentional, one cabinet member said stating that if the switch had been made during the summer, then some, if not many, would have been unaware of what to do or if it even happened, or that switch would have been too strong of a switch, sending some students into ewhiplash.

“Why can’t laptops be used to take notes in every class?” asked one student.

Carpenter expressed happiness in a question being asked that said, essentially, ‘Can the Vol State logo be added areas of common social gatherings to make this place more inviting?’ Despite this, the answer was that it’s not cost-effective, due to the permanence of the placement, and the

impermanence of the logo itself. She stated that the cabinet is very interested in hearing more ideas to increase school spirit, though.

“Can we get an ATM, preferably no-surcharge, on campus?’ Carpenter said that it has been tried, but the banks asked for too much. There may be another attempt, but it will be difficult to get no-surcharge.

“Can the Grill get a menu for items without noted cost? Who prices the food, there?” The provider sets the price—not Vol State. Menus may come along, but it was suggested for one to go elsewhere if too expensive.

“Can a meal ticket system be set up for The Feed?” One cabinet member replied, “It would be difficult, because we don’t know what he or she is going to get, so we don’t know what the price them as.”

Speaker Debera Bennett expressed indignation at the state of the tables and microwaves, saying immediately that the question, “Who wipes the tables and cleans the microwaves?” was hers. “They’re all disgusting. And they pose a health issue.”

The provider is responsible for cleaning, said Carpenter. The cabinet was told they were being cleaned five times a day. “If that isn’t happening, we can have another conversation,” said Carpenter. “The microwaves’ conditions are unacceptable,” said Short. “We’ll figure out some fix.”

“What are other ways for clubs to affect the community?” “That’s a good question,” said Short. “Donation drives, fundraisers, whatever may help the community.” Donation drives are encouraged. Students were encouraged to talk to Tabitha Sherrell if there are any more questions pertaining to that subject.

“Can campus events be expanded to offer students that have class during those times?” Essentially, the answer is they will see what they can do. On the issue of students having time for clubs and SGA, Pimentel wrote later, “In regards to students having time for clubs and SGA: beginning Fall 2020—the time period of 11:20-12:45 (MTWT) will not have courses for which there is only one section available.”

There was an activity hour. One student asked, “What happened to it? Why don’t we have it anymore?” “This is a common question: it issues all the way back to 1989,” said Faulkner, as he peered at a paper perhaps relevant to that statement. Apparently, most students didn’t want one, because they wanted to take classes during that time. “Its better to notify than take that opportunity away.”

Referring to the inquiry made into the possibility of a soccer team being added, one cabinet member said that “it’s best to ask Coach Hudson about it. There used to be one, but student interest fell rapidly. He is working on it. But cost and interest are both important problems, now. But there can be further discussion about that.”

“Some new programs won’t be supported on these old computers. Will we soon get replacements?” Cantania said to contact tech support if its a problem. She asked those that have problems, to let them know.

That was the last question asked and answered aloud. The forum ended shortly after it was answered. The Student Government Association discussed the answers Friday, last week. If there are any more questions, one may contact a cabinet member via their respective email addresses found on Vol State’s website. The same may be done for the SGA.

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