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SGA holds open forum meeting to hear student Vision 2020 concerns

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Seven students voiced their concerns to student government Monday night on how the increase in enrollment coupled with a lack of space on-campus is negatively affecting student organizations and Belmont as a whole.

About 20 non-SGA students attended, the most at any congress meeting this semester. Monday’s meeting followed a week of extended office hours, a measure implemented by SGA to meet with students one-on-one. This was done to hear individual student concerns in light of Belmont president Bob Fisher’s Vision 2020 Town Hall meeting earlier this month.

Students took advantage of the open forum format and spoke on a variety of topics including how available space is used, Belmont’s growth and academic standing and the continuing pursuit of fostering diversity.

Junior Danny Zydel encouraged students not to lose momentum and to use SGA as a channel to communicate solutions. Zydel said Belmont should focus on becoming an elite institution, not necessarily a bigger one.

“We’re losing our academic superiority, we’re losing these spaces on campus, and we’re losing a lot of these other things that we would benefit a lot from,” Zydel said. “We need to focus on how we can improve the experience right now, and from there we can have conversations about growth in a few years.”

Panhellenic President Danni Kosturko complained about finding meeting space for Belmont’s rapidly growing sorority community.

“This has been the roughest semester Panhellenic has faced,” she said. “We don’t fit on this campus anymore.”

Kosturko said the need for a new sorority on campus is the biggest issue facing the organization. Sororities are getting so large they are losing their sense of community.  In addition, she called the ongoing lack of a Greek director as a problem,  and said Panhellenic had been “stonewalled throughout the semester” by administration.

Sophomore Brittany Reese called attention to the lack of  spacing for Belmont’s dance program.

Currently, dance minors share space with the theatre program, Reese said.

“We have no space to call our own,” she said. “The dancers are constantly dancing on top of sets. It is not conducive to dancing safe or dancing well.”

A petition geared toward fixing this problem already has more than 200 signatures. It proposes using either Hitch or Wheeler, both of which currently stand empty, as potential space for the dance program, she said.

Briana August and Sean Della Croce, presidents of the Black Student Association and Bridge Builders, respectively, stressed that students need to look at diversity not just as an issue of races, but an issue of ethnic origin, religion, sexuality and gender identity. Belmont, they said, should work on inclusion for everyone.

August also implored students to take action, not just talk.

SGA President Jeanette Morelan said each of the students at last night’s meeting were there “for a reason.”

“I see Vision 2020 not as a problem, but as an opportunity.This is one of the best times to be at Belmont.”

This article was written by Will Hadden and Grayson Hester.

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