Student Gov. Town Hall: Your Questions Answered

Rajan Khannan/The Avion Newspaper
A panel of representatives from the university and Sodexo helped to answer the student bodies many questions

Keenan Thungtrakul/Senior Reporter

On Thursday night, students had the chance to have their questions heard in a live Q&A session with members of the upper division of Embry-Riddle’s administration and the SGA. Students wrote out questions on note cards and submitted them to be read by the SGA President, Dustin Gibson, and addressed in real time. Some hot topics discussed that night included the stray cats on campus, the all-too-familiar problem of parking on campus, and plans for the old UC once the new Student Union is completed. Representatives from the SGA, Sodexo, the Dean of Students, Student Engagement and Student Union, and administration came to help students voice their concerns and hear their plans to address them.

Ever wandered around campus and found yourself looking at a cat? Well, there are a number of stray cats living on campus, and they continue to multiply as they breed. Students, faculty, and staff often feed the cats, and a local animal control center regularly catches these cats to neuter them before re-releasing them. A committee has been created and has partnered with a local humane society to further address the issue of these felines on campus.

We all know what it is like when you cannot find parking at our favorite parks, shopping malls or attractions. Well, this problem is not new for Embry-Riddle. Almost everyone, both students and staff, has voiced multiple complaints about the lack of efficient, much less sufficient, parking on campus.

There is almost a game of chance just be lucky to find a spot or catch someone coming out and then following the person until a tradeoff occurs. This game gets old quick. It is frustrating, it is not fun, and it is a waste of gas. One proposed remedy is the construction of a parking garage somewhere on campus to alleviate the lack of parking. However, while a parking garage is a good long-term solution, the short-term effects must not be neglected. The area that is to eventually become a parking garage will have to be closed for the duration of construction, causing an even worse parking situation until the garage has been completed. Aesthetically, a parking garage does not look nice, unless it has a fancy design or is integrated into a building. Florida does not allow for underground construction because of sinkhole risk and being next to an airport limits the possibility of upward construction. Worse yet, if a parking garage were to be built, the price for decals would skyrocket, making it simply impractical at the current time. Tapping into SGA funds would mean less money going back to the students. The SGA fee collected as part of tuition goes straight back to the students in the form of entertainment, free food events, free amenities, student organizations and the all-important student projects. The idea of a parking garage is not completely off the drawing board; it is just not feasible right now. In fact, students voted to charge themselves for the construction of the Student Union. That alone took several years to accumulate sufficient funds. If the same method was employed to fund a parking garage, it would just take too long.

Alternative methods to alleviate this frustrating game have included proposals for digital signage showing the number of spots available and how many may be opening up, an app that does the same or restricting the number of vehicles on campus. Right now, everyone can have a car on campus regardless of academic standing, due to the large presence of international students that need cars to get around. While there is a committee dedicated to helping alleviate the lack of parking, there is still a lot of work to do to help students and staff find ways to remedy it. The best short-term solution? If you live close enough to campus, consider taking a bicycle, motorcycle, skateboard, or a scooter to school.

Aside from all the talk about parking, students praised the administration for their response to Hurricane Irma, providing students enough time to execute evacuation plans and either shelter in place at local shelters or make trips to leave the area that will feel the brute force of the storm. Issues were addressed regarding Title IX (gender equality in education), creating additional after-hour study spaces for students, a shortage of CFIs (flight instructors) for commercial pilot trainees, dietary concerns, housing situations on campus and a wealth of other topics. Know that these events are for you, the students, to have your voices heard. If any concerns arise, feel free to bring them by the SGA office.

Together, we are Embry-Riddle, and we strive to better ourselves as a community.