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Presidential forum discusses current issues

Last updated on February 1, 2016

Barbara Harmon

The Presidential Forum at Volunteer State Community College was presided over by the school’s cabinet on Oct. 26.

Jesse Versage, President of the Student Government Association (SGA), started the questions by asking if Vol State would ever add more four year programs, and if so what would they be.

“As a community college and offices of the Tennessee Board of Regents, we are not allowed to have four year programs, so that’s just not the way it works,” said Dr. George Pimentel, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

“TTP is the Tennessee Transfer Pathway; the first two years you are here, people transfer then to a university.

“The only program that’s been discussed, and that’s because of possible accreditation is nursing,” said Pimentel.

“There was some talk, over the last few months, that the university accreditation involving nurses may be going to four year BSN degrees, and that might change some things, but as it stands right now as a community college we have two year programs,” he said.

Beth Cooksey, Vice President of Business and Finance, also responded to his question.

“I mean, we do have Trevecca and Lindsey both here and TSU on our campus,” said Cooksey.

“With the growth from Tennessee Promise, we don’t really have the room for other four year institutions to come here,” said Cooksey, “because we’re full.”

A student asked if they did not plan for enough parking for the Tennessee Promise students, or if they did not account for the lost parking from the humanities building.

Cooksey said that they replaced the parking lost to the humanities building space for space, but the amount of Tennessee Promise students was unexpected.

“There was an increase of about 800 freshman this year, and some of them, as well as other students, did not register until June, July and August,” she said.

“What we are doing right now is working with the Tennessee Board of Regents, who is our governing body, to go about constructing new permanent parking,” said Cooksey.

“We have two areas on campus, maybe three that we are considering.

“But we (Vol State) have to get permission from the Tennessee Board of Regents before we start any new parking,” said Cooksey.

She said they are attempting to have something done by January, however she has doubts about them getting approval that quickly.

There should be new permanent parking by the fall semester, but she did not feel comfortable saying it would be finished sooner, she said.

They are considering making some gravel lots before then, she said.

“We are very well aware of the parking situation and our interest is to build sufficient parking for the student body,” said Cooksey.

The athletic representative asked why the overflow parking has been closed.

“We’ve been monitoring the parking area very closely, and as we have determined at this point, and we do it on a daily basis, there is no need to have the overflow parking open at this time,” said William Rogan, Chief of Campus Police.

“It seems, for whatever reason, the car population has dropped off,” he said.

Domino Hunt, Secretary of State for the Student Government Association, asked if tickets were being issued to students that were removing their stickers and parking in the staff and visitor parking spaces.

Rogan said that the campus police are issuing tickets to those students, and that actually consumes a lot of their time.

Chasity Crabtree, Chair of Association of Campus Events (ACE), asked about student leader parking.

Cooksey said it was her understanding that the student leaders would like special parking spaces, but she feels this could cause problems with the students that they have been elected to serve.

It would be unlikely that they could match these designated parking spaces to where the student leaders needed to be—resulting in empty parking spaces, she said.

“In the past, we did allow some student leaders to have a faculty staff decal,” said Cooksey.

“That seems like a better solution to me; in that, instead of creating a third category of spots that might stay vacant, we could allow some student leaders to share in a faculty staff spot,” said Cooksey.

A student asked about the procedure that would be used in the case of an emergency, after the false alarm Vol State had.

“We get the report, we respond to the area, and a decision of evacuation is made,” said Rogan.

Rogan said that every situation is different.

As far as the incident that was a false alarm went, an alert was sent out and the campus police made a traffic stop, he said.

If it would have been an actual situation, they would have put a shelter in place and they will be having a drill for this, so students will better know what to do, he said.

Alice Myers, Vice President of SGA, wanted to know if more hydration stations could be put in the Pickel Building.

“Yes, we are currently going through every building,” said Will Newman, Senior Director of Plant Operations.  “Each building is getting hydration stations.”

“Once every building has a hydration station, and it’s a main common area, we will circle back to the buildings with the higher traffic and add more,” he said.

Hunt asked if it would be possible to make a connector walkway to cross the street, for students who wanted to eat at those restaurants.

Pimentel said that question has come up before, but that would be a city ordinance.

Cooksey said, “Obviously we’re concerned about student safety, and I do see how students crossing what is a very, very busy roadway; I know that Dr. Faulkner reaches out to the Mayor of Gallatin and speaks to her about that.”

It might help if the students aided in that effort, as well, she said.

Versage wanted to know what was being done about how crowded it is for faculty and students and the lack of space for the clubs.

Pimentel said he was not sure what Versage meant about crowded, however the classes are full.

“Once the humanities building is built there will be more options for faculty, and it won’t feel so full,” said Pimentel.

He said the new humanities building is supposed to be finished by next fall.

Hunt asked if they would ever consider bringing back Friday classes, so the schedules would not be so tight.

Pimentel said, “the short answer is no.”

Surveys about this have been conducted for both faculty and students, and they agree, he said.

“Two years ago we did not offer a lot of classes after 1 p.m., so it was primarily a morning campus,” said Pimentel.

“Pretty much the same pressure for fitting in classes has always been the same, but now we are utilizing more of the day and alleviating some of the pressure,” said Pimentel.

“Students still take five classes a week and teachers still teach five classes a week,” he said.  “It is still the same amount of hours.”

Jason Strong, a student in SGA, wanted to know if there could be a scheduled hour and a half break for lunch, so students could participate in organizations.

Pimentel said they did a survey on this about two years ago and students had no interest in responding.

He also said that students are capable of scheduling a time for their lunches when they plan their schedules.

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