Talk of the Town Hall: NSURC Raises Debates


Construction on the new Student Union and Recreation Center has been halted due to inconclusive decisions regarding cutbacks proposed to the original plan. These cutbacks were suggested due to a recent drop in enrollment (about 20% to 30% drop) as well as the demand for funds to repair numerous academic halls. The new proposal states that the funds gathered from the NSURC cutbacks would be invested in the much-needed repairs for halls such as McEver, Doc Bryan, Corley, Witherspoon, Dean, and Rothwell. Over the next five years, $55 million is needed in campus improvements and infrastructure needs. $16 million of these infrastructure repair costs is needed immediately. 

When proposed to the Student Government Association, the cutback was generally opposed by attendees of the meeting. Due to the volume of questions presented by SGA, a town hall meeting for all students was held in the current Student Union on Thursday, Oct. 26. 

Interim President Dr. Russell Jones stated, “The most meaningful thing to me is that you care. We care about you and what you want. We do not want to cut you anything that you feel is important.” 

Dr. Jones and the Student Union Task Force then gave all students in attendance surveys. The focus of the survey was to gather student feedback regarding the importance of each area of the NSURC. Students were asked to select the six areas most important to them, out of the 21 originally planned areas. Some students protested by selecting all areas on the paper, and returning the survey to the Task Force. 

After giving his presentation, Dr. Jones immediately rushed to another previously planned meeting. Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Keegan Nichols, and Vice President of Administration and Finance, Laury Fiorello, were left to run the question and answer portion of the meeting. They fielded questions and concerns from frustrated students for approximately two hours. 

Many students were concerned with where the money that was already raised was being allocated. Senior John Hiland stated, “We don’t want anything to change whatsoever. ATU already raised $42 million and I wanna know where that money is. It was raised for the Student Recreation Center specifically.” 

Ms. Fiorello responded, “I will say that we are not redirecting any of the fees that students have paid for the student union to any other project.” Unfortunately, students expressed concern regarding this promise. 

Junior Allie Davis stated, “I think there is a large underrepresentation of our less vocal student population. How do we keep the message clear that all students are valued equally if we cut parts of the original plan? How are we to trust that our feedback won’t be axed if we’re axing the feedback from the students who started this project?” 

After one hour of questions and concerns from students, Dr. Nichols told attendees, “Raise your hand if you want the new student union plan to remain as it is.” An overwhelmingly large portion of attendees raised their hands. Though the administrators stated that they were there to represent Dr. Jones and his proposal, Dr. Nichols said, “We’re not saying that any change is definitely going to happen.” 

Currently, the consensus from the Town Hall, in the eyes of the students, is that no cutbacks should be carried out. The decision has been tabled until more student feedback is gathered. If you have any further questions or comments regarding the NSURC proposed changes, this feedback can be emailed to