On Nov. 14, President Thomas Beaucham addressed the UNF community in an open forum for the first time. The purpose of the forum was for the students to get to know their student body president better and vice versa.
Beaucham said making SG more approachable to students is a priority for him, as well as getting SG more involved around campus. One student voiced her desire to see the SB President at more events, which Beaucham said is a goal of his. The student said she wants Beaucham to “be one of us.”
Another student said it would be a good idea to have tours of SG as a part of orientation. Although Beaucham supported the idea, he said this isn’t something SG has control over.
Beaucham was also asked how he plans to maximize the budget for the next fiscal year. According to Beaucham, SG looks at expenditures from previous years, which he said usually has patterns. They then determine the appropriate budget for each index. He also said that typically the entire budget isn’t even used.
UNF is considered a highly diverse school ranked #812 nationwide. Also, its overall diversity score is above the national average. Despite this, many students said they would like to see UNF embrace diversity more. Beaucham said, “SG is a government for all students, not just a government for some students.”
The university offers many resources for the diverse community, like the Department of Diversity Initiatives, the Interfaith Center, the Intercultural Center for Peace, and more. However, some things mentioned in the forum were the need for more gender neutral bathrooms, the incorporation of diversity into curriculum, raising comfort and awareness for different gender identities, and having a more equal representation of all races.
Safety on campus was also addressed. One student mentioned that she has seen more police on campus and asked about adding more lights. Having more lights on campus is something Beaucham and other members of SG personally looked into. He said they went around campus at night, documenting where lights are needed. He also said this is something SG will continue to advocate for.
Parking, a hot topic at UNF, was also discussed. Student Advocate Amelia Stark, who addresses student complaints and serves on the Parking Advisory board, said SG is always working on making parking easier. However, decreasing the amount of passes sold would also increase the price. They also said adding more bus stops or routes would also cost students more.
Regarding the shuttles, former SB VP Cole Poppell said they need new artwork, and one student said having a contest where students can submit art for the shuttles would get more students involved.
Beaucham also talked about initiatives he is currently involved in. One of those Initiatives is community swoop, which started last year. Community swoop connects UNF with local businesses, resulting in partnerships. Beaucham said it has been successful, as more businesses want to get involved or continue their involvement with UNF.
Another initiative Beaucham mentioned was the Mental Health Awareness Day initiative. It began under former SB President Samantha Mims back in August and was approved by senate in September. He believes the initiative will benefit the community by increasing productivity and happiness. He also said it will make UNF and the surrounding community a better place to live and work. Additionally, Beaucham said he is trying to get the mayor to present a proclamation in order to get Mental Health Awareness Day recognized.
He said installing a new skate park has not been decided, and is at the time not an initiative. A student who works in the Ogier Gardens said the area where the skatepark used to be is being used as a compost area, making the most of the food waste. He asked Beaucham what will happen to that area if the park were to be built there. Beaucham said SG would look at how that area will best serve the students and make plans accordingly.
Current SG Projects can be found online, as well as past accomplishments. However, it was suggested that an initiative tracker would increase transparency and students’ interest.
Beaucham said he only has one semester to accomplish initiatives set for this fiscal year. So, due to time, not everything can be addressed. He said SG will look into everything in order to determine how to best serve the student body.
The open forum concluded with Beaucham, Stark, and Chief of Staff Gloria Turner inviting students to come talk with them and visit SG.
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