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Students prompt administrators

SGA hosted a town hall forum where students voiced their concerns

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 19:01

town hall meeting

Xinzhong Zhao, Staff Photographer

Students inquire about a range of topics including refund checks, Wi-Fi availability, and the iPad initiative Tuesday night at the campus forum meeting.

cooksey and stripling

Caitlin LaFarlette, Photo Editor

Lynita Cooksey, vicec chancellor and provost; Rick Stripling, vice chancellor for student affairs; and Russ Hannah, associate vice chancellor for Finance, answer students' questions during the campus forum Tuesday afternoon.

Students’ voices from across the ASU campus were heard Tuesday night when the Student Government Association organized a town hall meeting with four of the university’s upper administration.

Chancellor Tim Hudson, Provost Lynita Cooksey, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Rick Stripling and Russ Hannah, the associate vice chancellor for finance, all took questions in an hour-long forum designed to shed light on students’ biggest worries.

SGA President Hunter Petrus emceed the forum, opening the night by allowing the audience to ask questions that they felt only the administrators could answer.

The first question to hit the floor came from the iPad initiative introduced at last week’s faculty senate meeting.

The chief information officer of ITS, Mark Hoeting, presented the idea that freshman use iPads as a part of their First Year Experience course, which could also be used to fulfill the needs of the rest of their schedule.

Several students asked about the iPad initiative, including questions about whether or not they would be able to use the newer technology in their own schooling.

Katie Calaway, a junior political science major of Jonesboro, said she had previously used iPads in her classes and said they were helpful in the learning process.

“The only problem I see is when the professors aren’t completely familiar with new technology,” Calaway said in the forum. “I think that when they can’t understand how to use Blackboard, it’s going to be hard for them to know how to incorporate an iPad into the classroom. I think it’s going to be a challenge for them to fully be able to successfully use them within their curriculum.”

Cooksey took this question by introducing a new training instructors will go through to become more familiar with the iPad’s use in the classroom.

“If they don’t know how to use the iPad’s effectively, then it’s just another useless gadget,” Cooksey said.

Cooksey also mentioned the benefit of cheaper textbooks for students with the iPad.

“Once you have the iBooks app on your iPad, then the books will become yours,” Cooksey said. “We’ve recommended to the faculty that they find books with electronic versions. These are usually a lot cheaper than the physical copy of that same book.”

While an excited murmur went through the crowd of students at the thought of cheaper textbooks, one student raised the question of the future of textbook stores.

“If we push for iPads and ebooks, what will happen to our bookstores,” Sophomore Rod Warren, of Conway, asked Cooksey.

Cooksey stated that textbooks in some areas will not offer an ebook, but that others have been really embracing the newer technology.

“I think we will eventually see an almost paperless environment,” Cooksey said. “But I don’t think textbooks will totally go away.”

While iPads are certainly an enhancement to student education, several students became concerned with the university’s advancement in academia.

The administrators pointed out that their number one goal is to finish the liberal arts building.

“Our first major push is to complete the construction on that building,” Cooksey said. “When it’s completed it will take some major stress off of the older classrooms and the larger number of students. We will still be using Wilson, but this new building will give us some much needed space.”

Naturally, the talk of buildings brought up the older residence halls such as Kays, Arkansas and University Hall.

Logan Mustain, a freshman international business major of Benton, said that during his time as an Orientation Leader the biggest concern was dorm-life.

“The buildings suck, honestly,” Mustain said. “They’re old and they aren’t appealing to freshmen. They see the buildings they have to live in and they aren’t as excited about coming to ASU for school.”

Stripling addressed the aging buildings, stating that building new residence halls is a much different process than an academic building.

“You are basically paying ‘rent’ to live in the buildings each semester,” Stripling said. “So, when it comes to building new halls, we don’t have to ask the state for money. We can use the money that the students pay each year.”

While Stripling made the initial answer sound easy, he followed with a more settling statement.

“In reality, those buildings house a lot of students, it would be extremely hard to build replacements that are as efficient,” Stripling said. “We know that they’re old, but we are constantly updating the buildings and renovating them to make sure the students are comfortable and in a nice hall.”

Hudson added on to Stripling’s comments, stating that new residence halls are dependent on the university’s success. Although the university has added new residence halls for honors students, ROTC students and even a STEM Den, the university would be hard pressed to add a residence hall large enough to house the number of freshman that the current houses do.

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