Parking, smoking hot topics at recent Town Hall meeting

Parking, smoking, lighting and funding. These are only a few of the discussion points students raised in the Town Hall meeting held in late November. Town Hall was held in order to give students a chance to voice their opinions to the Student Senate and the College President’s Staff in a constructive manner on equal ground.

It was explained that parking permits were eliminated this year in order to save time and money for both students and staff. By getting rid of parking permits, it not only saves time spent on the paperwork registering vehicles, but also takes away the need for parking permit enforcement.

When a parking garage was brought up as a solution, South Puget Sound Community College’s President, Gerald Pumphrey, explained that it would be $20,000-30,000 per parking space. State funding is not an option to help pay for this, any maintenance or work on parking lots or structures would be paid for by the college and student fees. A parking garage is financially unviable for SPSCC.

It is still encouraged for students to use Intercity Transit or carpool to help minimize the parking dilemmas. It was said that the Intercity Transit bus stop will be moved back to the original area by Building 25 when the construction between buildings is done.

The lighting along campus to the bus stop was also a concern, with multiple night class students feeling distress about the lack of lighting. Student Seana Living felt that the lack of lighting is uncomfortable, even frightening.

Staff assured Living and other students that the lighting will be looked into as soon as possible. For the time being, if a student is worried they can request an escort from the security staff.

As for the recent smoking ban, students have claimed they felt discriminated against and that they preferred the idea of designated areas for smoking.

According to staff, in 2007 the Student Senate tried to get six designated covered smoking areas built on campus, but the cost was determined to be too high. By 2010 students were approaching the staff about banning smoking on campus altogether. After an online vote, it was determined that smoking would be banned from campus. However, students can still smoke in their cars or right off campus.

Student Cameron Cumberland asked if tuition was going to rise, as well as the current standing of the college’s finances.

President Pumphrey explained that it wasn’t known at this time. There have been cuts of roughly $2.5 million from the budget, which had caused the tuition to rise. Pumphrey believes that raising tuition further will end up being counterproductive by causing lower enrollment rates.

The Student Senate asked if there was anything students themselves could do to lower the tuition costs, and Pumphrey recommended communication with the legislators that determine the budget.

Students and Senate members believe that the Town Hall was a success. Student Senate member David Vo, who is the ASB Vice President for Administration and Finance, felt that it was a great meeting.

“Usually on a daily campus you are not going to get the opportunity for all these different groups of people to come together…I think we had a lot of answers and clarifications for students, as well as Student Senate and President’s Staff.”

Cumberland felt the Town Hall was a great improvement from last year’s meeting. Cumberland was one of the only student attendees from last year, and said that it had been advertised much better this year.

Living had a less optimistic outlook, saying she felt little would change, although still felt heard.

“I’ll come back, because I think that if the students keep speaking up changes will be made, little simple things. They(President’s Staff) have voices, they can fight, but we have to fight too, we have to unite and fight together.”

Town Hall was very well advertised this year, causing a significant increase in student attendance as compared to last year.