The 61st College Council (CC) welcomed students to discuss and question University-wide changes in their end-of-the-year town hall, CC’s first town hall since the establishment of their new legislative body in early April.
Dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences Robin Forman, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Joanne Brzinski, Assistant Vice President and Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Wanda Collins and Director of the Dobbs University Center (DUC) Ben Perlman updated students on what they are working on and answered student questions about their projects. The event took place Monday evening at Eagle’s Landing.
“The town hall is a way for admin to tell students what’s going on at the same time for students who are really passionate and really have questions,” said College junior and CC President Molly Zhu, who opened the forum and introduced the speakers. “It’s a great way for them to get their questions answered.”
Most of the questions discussed plans regarding the future Campus Life Center (CLC), which is planned to replace the DUC by summer 2018.
Perlman detailed the progress that has been made, stating after the designs are approved, a temporary dining location in the space between the current DUC and Woodruff Physical Education Center (WoodPEC) would be established.
The 1982 Portman addition of the DUC, which contains Eagles Landing, Coca-Cola Commons and the cafeteria, will be torn down by spring 2017, Perlman said. He added that the “East DUC,” the original Alumni Memorial University Center, will be kept intact.
Perlman also said coming up with a name for the temporary dining location has been a part of the design process.
The Food Advisory Committee at Emory (FACE) has been looking for a name for the temporary dining location, and all popular names contain “Dooley” within them, he later stated.
In response to student questions about CLC’s environmental sustainability, Perlman said that he aims for not only Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which recognizes sustainable building strategies and practices nationwide, but also overall building sustainability. In response to a student question regarding DUC workers’ job security, Perlman said that there are no planned staffing changes.
“One thing that’s crucial is building a sense of community,” Brzinski said. She added that community is important within the student body.
In one effort of collaboration, Brzinski declared the consolidation of Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE) and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Emory (SURE).
Forman also discussed the University’s strategic plan and long-term vision: “Who are we, what do we want to be and what do we have to do or stop doing to get there?”
Conversations with student groups and multiple surveys have been sent out to to include the student body in the University’s planning, Forman added.
He stated three initial steps to work towards campus inclusion: improving OPUS navigability, improving the experience of pre-business students and offering more support for minority populations of students, particularly as they transition to Emory.
Collins explained the importance of prioritizing mental health through all of these changes.
“I have a strong passion for being a part of student affairs,” Collins said. “I really want to be a part of the community … and serve all students.”
CAPS has also taken steps to move toward a more inclusive campus and a more sensitive Emory culture, Collins said. Those steps decreasing the average wait time for an appointment with a CAPS counselor from nine days to three days, introducing the therapy dog Beowulf and increasing outreach.
“I think [these are] really interesting topics for all of us,” Zhu said at the town hall.
“I was really happy College Council put on this event,” College sophomore Gurbani Singh said. “Obviously College Council and SGA know what’s going on, but I thought the panelists were really open to getting student feedback [from the community].”