24/7 campus is ‘unrealistic’

Bobby Shipman

The crystal ball is cloudy when looking into USI’s future as a 24/7 campus.

“I don’t think it is realistic for us to literally embrace the term 24/7 campus here,” said Marcia Kiessling, associate provost for student affairs. “That’s just crazy. I don’t know any institution that does that.”

One goal of USI’s six-point Strategic Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2010, is to become a 24/7 campus.

“There are three key strategies to becoming a 24/7 campus,” Kiessling said. “Engage students in the process of developing a full-time campus, identify and facilitate activities, spaces, programs and services to offer during nontraditional hours and encourage students to be deliberate in their co-curricular activities.”

Each of the six points specified in the Strategic Plan were assigned a committee.

“I went to a couple of their (Become a 24/7 Campus Committee) meetings, and there weren’t any students,” Kiessling said. “There weren’t enough anyway.”

Kiessling then disbanded the original 24/7 committee and started a new one run by a student majority that met every other week last year.

SGA President Zack Mathis is in charge of the committee.  USI faculty members were also asked to be part of the committee.

“We need them (faculty) to speak up and give us a history of what it’s been in the past and where it could go,” Mathis said. “Then we could interpret that and see what we should focus on.”

Food availability and library hours are at the top of the Become a 24/7 Campus committee’s focus list.

“We are very interested in a providing a good service, but we are not going to say we will keep running these (food services) at a loss,” Kiessling said.

Sophomore Beth Ann Crabtree said USI loses appeal with a limited time for food.

“USI could definitely benefit from a 24/7 campus,” said Beth Ann Crabtree, a sophomore and campus resident. “Sometimes students, on weekends, are trying to find a place to eat or study and the food places and the library close very early for your typical college student.”

Crabtree also said having a 24/7 campus could provide more job opportunities for student workers and might even increase enrollment.

“USI gets labeled a community college even though it is not,” Crabtree said. “If it’s open more on weekends and weeknights, they (potential students) might say, ‘Yeah, USI is pretty cool.’”

Molly Swihart agrees that food options are what USI lacks.

“It would be really nice to have 24/7 food options on campus,” Swihart said. “If I am up at 3 a.m., I don’t like having to waste gas money driving to Taco Bell for food.”

The sophomore biology major also became “annoyed” last semester when, during finals week, her roommate was kicked out of the library at 2 a.m.

“She had to come study at the dorm, which woke me up because she had to have the light on,” Swihart said.

Although hours during finals week have not changed, the library has expanded its hours to 7 p.m. on Fridays and 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

“It’ll be easier for people who work full time to get over here because if you get off work at 5 p.m. on Fridays, and we were closing at 6 p.m. before, you really couldn’t do too much,” said Marna Hostetler, Rice Library director.

Mathis said  the 24/7 committee suggested that the library extend hours the last two or three weeks prior to and during finals week.

“These are staff members with families,” Hostetler said. “It’s really difficult for us to maintain those hours. That’s a lot to ask, but they’re looking at it. We are trying to be smart about it.”

Mathis pointed out that a 24-hour laundry service does exist. It is connected to Residence Life Service Center in the O’Daniel South housing area.

Although to some, it seems little improvement has been made since the student-ran committee took the 24/7 strategy under their wing, some ideas have followed through.

USI’s Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center has extended its hours to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday.

Crabtree wants more weekend events, she said.

“APB (Activities Programming Board) events happen during the week when people are trying to study or have other things going on,” Crabtree said. “Normal universities do things seven days a week.”

Expanded library and RFWC hours are small jumps, but Kiessling said she encourages more students to get involved in helping the committee.

No one is in charge of marketing for the 24/7 initiative, Kiessling said.

The committee is planning to present their recommendations to the Provost Council. Mathis is currently in the process of working with members of the committee to shape a presentation.

“I am going to have some money to put toward the things that we think we need to do,” Kiessling said. “Anytime you’re in a position where you can give the students a majority voice and then give them the resources they need is really good.”