Administrators discuss increasing commuter student engagement and needs on campus

Secretary Lexi Kays discussed issues with Dining Services during Open Forum. (Kathleen Moore / THE GATEPOST)

By Leighah Beausoleil

Asst. News Editor

SGA discussed how to increase student involvement and engagement on campus, and heard concerns regarding Dining Services Oct. 8.

During Open Forum, multiple members highlighted issues they had with Dining Services.

Secretary Lexi Kays said, “The dining hall hours on the weekend are very inconvenient. I understand that it’s hard to staff so early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but I have a job on the weekends where I get scheduled at 10 a.m. and I have to leave campus at 9:30. 

“I pay a lot of money to eat on campus – I don’t want to pay money to eat off campus so often,” she added.

Olivia Beverlie, student trustee, said, “Last year, we asked them to post their hours for when the back entrance would be open to West [Hall residents], but that’s been kind of inconsistent, too, because even though sometimes it says, ‘We’re open these hours,’ it’s not actually open. 

“I don’t know if that is just a staffing issue or what – that’s super frustrating,” she said.  

Senator Mariah Farris said, “Sodexo has consistently served raw meat.” 

Farris talked about her experience with a raw burger. “It literally fell apart and it was completely raw.” 

Senator McKenzie Ward said, “Sometimes, the food in the dining hall is not warm. The plates are probably about 10 times hotter than the food.” 

President Matty Bennet said, “I am going to be making an appointment with the Dining Services coordinator, because myself and [Olivia Beverlie] went to a student advisory council meeting on Friday and there was mold on one of the sandwiches. 

“So, I have noticed there is a definite issue with the quality of the food they have been putting out,” he said.

SGA also plans to invite a Sodexo representative to the Administrators’ Forum Oct. 22. This event is open to all students and business casual attire is required.

During the meeting, Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student development, and Meg Nowak Borrego, dean of students, hosted a Q&A session with SGA.

Holloway emphasized the importance of her “Student Group/Club in the Spotlight” program.

“I do this … to try to highlight clubs and student organizations on campus,” Holloway said.

She explained student involvement is not simply being part of a club, but it’s also “about what you’re paying attention to in the place you live.

“I want you to be civically engaged in your communities,” Holloway added.

Nowak Borrego explained campus engagement as having different meanings. 

She encouraged SGA members to get people involved. 

She asked of them, “How can we as a campus help people understand the variety of things that are going on? [It’s] when we see those good things happening, recognizing them, and highlighting them and trying to go, even though we are all super, super busy.”

Ward asked, “How can we get more commuters involved? I feel like there’s this misconception that commuters can’t get as involved as residents because residents are here more.”

Nowak Borrego said, “I think what we need to do is figure out where they are when they are on campus.”

She discussed the importance of communication with commuters and emphasized their need for seating on campus during their free times and communication with clubs when it comes to meeting times.

“So, trying to make sure we have some things they can do when they are more likely to be here is important,” she said. 

Farris explained how M.I.S.S. conducts some of their meetings through online livestreaming to allow online students to participate in the club. 

Beverlie said some rooms, such as the Alumni Room, have a program called Zoom.

“It’s basically an application that can be used in order to call in people who are not on site,” she explained. 

Beverlie suggested using Zoom to conduct events for students who would otherwise not be able to attend. 

Holloway said, “Commuters are difficult because they are our most diverse group on campus.” 

Senator Krista Jameson said as a commuter, she spends a lot of time in the Game Room and suggested the use of a bulletin board in that room where clubs can post flyers. 

“I see commuters of all ages go to the Game Room. I know people there who are 40 and kids who are my age, so I think it would be a good way to reach a large variety from the commuter community,” she said. 

Holloway said her office is looking at “geofencing” – not just in terms of social media, but for other ads as well.

Geofencing is a virtual geographical boundary that enables software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.

Holloway said the marketing committee must be mindful of their target audience and when the optimal time is to target it.

“We are also utilizing some of our new vendors that we’re working with. We are working with Eduventures, which has completed a new incoming freshman survey,” she said.

Holloway explained the survey allows them to break the students up into categories of what kind of marketing they pay most attention to.

She said they will also be able to see the students “who applied here and got accepted but decided to go elsewhere, and what were the things that made them go?”

Holloway said from the surveys, her team learned state school students, in comparison to those at UMass schools, are more career-focused as freshmen and sophomores.

Beverlie said given this information, “What I’d like to see happen in the future would be something in terms of doing co-op semester internships.”

She said FSU students are focused on career readiness, so it would be beneficial to the University to market that students are able to complete full-time internships during the course of a semester.

Holloway said for this to happen, it would take a long process and would most likely happen after their time. “But that doesn’t mean that’s something that couldn’t happen.” 

Bennet said many of the University’s majors require internships, yet “there is a concern that certain jobs on campus won’t allow you to get paid through the Choices or Pathways program.” 

Holloway explained there was a  former student employment task force they will be bringing back to address issues students have been having with jobs and internships. 

Nowak Borrego said there is a governance committee that wants to hear from students regarding their issues with student life – “especially if it is a particular issue, because they can bring that to that group and perhaps update our governance policies on those areas,” she said.

Also during the meeting, SGA appointed a new senator-at-large: Mark Huskell, a freshman international business major.

The U-Rock award was presented to senator Jeneba Aruna.

[Editor’s Note: McKenzie Ward is a staff writer for The Gatepost.]

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