By Dan Hayes, News Editor
The results for the SWOT survey conducted earlier this semester are in, and the results indicate mixed feeling about the consolidation. President Hebert and the administration called for the survey in order to get an idea of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that students, faculty and staff felt, post-consolidation.
The survey was conducted across all three campuses, and over 400 students from the Armstrong and Liberty campuses participated in the survey.
The Inkwell sat down with SGA President Nipuna Ambanpola to get a better understanding of the results for Armstrong and Liberty campuses.
As the summary of the results stated “most of comments include resentment towards consolidation.” President Hebert was not happy to learn that Armstrong students harbored resentment towards the consolidation. However, that feeling of resentment has been conspicuous for quite some time, and for good reason.
Armstrong has lost its identity. The morale and spirit of Armstrong’s populace has been noticeably lacking for the past two semesters.
Every year the Student Government Association has a pool of money from which they can disperse funds to support recognized student organizations. Typically, that money is all about spent by this time of year, but this year the fund has a “surplus of money” as Ambanpola states. A “surplus of money” that can be attributed to a deficit of student engagement.
As a result, Nipuna and the SGA are now urging the RSO’s (Registered Student Organizations) to apply for funds. They have money left over, and they would prefer to spend it on student activities. The goal is to increase student-involvement in activities on campus.
As one anonymous student noted in the survey “There is not a great way and/or place to have announcements that allow the students to know what is going on around campus. Since we do not have any sporting events on Armstrong’s campus anymore, there aren’t many social events on campus, and if there are, then it was not correctly publicized to the students.”
Students from both campuses express concerns about lack of access to resources after the consolidation. It has been stated throughout the consolidation that students will continue to have access to all the programs available to them pre-consolidation. Nipuna reiterated the fact that students from “every single program” will be able to complete their studies on this campus until 2022, but Georgia Southern University has been struggling to effectively convey information about consolidation activities and post-consolidated decisions to students.
The number one concern for Liberty students was campus safety. There are no officers of the Georgia Southern Office of Public Safety stationed on Liberty campus. Students in Hinesville do not feel safe on their campus. The University has tried to address the issue by adding more cameras to the campus, but the students want a police presence. Nipuna understands the concerns of the Liberty students and is working to address the problem.
Administrators believe the campus to be safe, they do not see a need for police. But as Nipuna noted, perception is often more influential than reality and “these students do not feel safe.” The University has promised to add more cameras to the campus, preliminary talks with the Hinesville Police Department have begun but here are no immediate plans to add police to the Liberty campus.
But not all the survey results expressed an unfavorable response to the consolidation. Some of the most frequent areas of approval from the strengths and opportunities poll were academic success resources, grants, scholarships and career opportunities granted from the consolidation. It is apparent that Armstrong students are excited about the academic opportunity that the consolidation has brought. With the addition of the Armstrong and Liberty campuses, Georgia Southern has become a larger academic powerhouse in the coastal region of Georgia. Students from all three campuses should be able to utilize many opportunities for academic advancement as a consequence of comprising a larger university system.
But still, while students might appreciate certain aspects of the consolidation, which is great, many students harbor resentment towards its other aspects, and the consolidation benefits don’t absolve the concerns those students might feel. President Hebert is aware of the concerns of Armstrong and Liberty students, and in effort to address them, has instructed various work groups to further investigate those concerns to implement solutions.