Volunteer State Community College hosted the president forum virtually on Oct.27. Among the attendances was Debera Bennett, SGA Attorney General. Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Services and President of VSCC Jerry Faulkner were present and answered questions asked by students.
VSCC students submitted questions to the Student Government Association (SGA) that they wanted to have answered. Bennett was chosen to ask the 30 final questions. All staff, administration and faculty that participated were provided the questions before the Zoom meeting, so they were prepared and organized.
Michele Niec, a journalism student at Vol State said she attended simply to be informed. As a peer mentor for ALVA attending helps her to be able to answer questions should her mentees have them.
Questions about stress, anxiety and suicide as it relates to college and COVID-19 changes were asked and it was expressed by the staff about the help and support available such as virtual support groups, mental health vouchers that cover six visits at no cost to the student and the need to just ask for what the students need.
The next question asked was what measures are being taken to help non-traditional students and students that are less motivated due to all the changes because of COVID-19? Staff, administration and faculty all spoke with answers such as reaching out to students and checking on them. Offering resources such as online coaches, tutoring online, or on-campus through Zoom, extended virtual office hours for offices such as Veterans/ adult learners and finical aid. VSCC also has an early alert system that allows the advisors to know if a student is struggling so they can get them help.
Faulkner spoke of the future plans to build a new campus in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, the land has already been acquired and how to capitalize on what has been learned since the pandemic to use in the future with online classes. He also addressed having to make a decision about spring classes being remote or on the ground, he felt the safest choice to protect everyone was to have most classes online. Hoping if the numbers of COVID-19 cases decrease then fall of 2021, students can return to campus.
Faulkner also spoke about how tough the changes have been on the staff, faculty and administration, saying they miss the students on campus don’t want to reduce what students are learning.
Many of the questions were about COVID precautions, class changes, and what the future at Vol State will be after these trying times.
“I felt all of the answers were what I would expect. Many of the questions were asking Vol State leadership to predict the future and I respect the answers they provided because there is no way any of us can know what tomorrow holds. Strategic plans and hopes are wonderful, but they must remain fluid and we, as students, must be open to the unexpected,” said Nice.