Issues related to facilities and use of spaces by student organizations were the most talked about at Wednesday morning’s State of The Student Body & Town Hall.
The Student Government Association organized and mediated the event, where students were encouraged to ask questions to Belmont’s senior leadership in an open forum. While a variety of topics were brought up, the majority of the questions were related to the aforementioned space issues.
More specifically, students voiced their concerns about the status of the Hitch and Wheeler buildings, the sharing of space in the Wedgewood Academic Center and the availability of suitable meeting locations for organizations. In response to these inquiries, Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said Belmont operates on a policy of first-come, first-serve for booking these locations. The administration is also exploring options for Hitch and Wheeler as part of an “ongoing conversation,” Burns said.
“Our philosophy is to share the space we have to serve all constituencies,” he said.
This policy of first-come, first-serve affects not only student organizations but faculty as well, said Burns. When asked by audience members why sororities and fraternities have not been able to use rooms in the WAC for their chapter meetings, Burns said he himself has at times been unable to schedule meetings due to the rooms being booked beforehand.
Vice President & Chief of Staff Susan West reinforced Burns’ position. While Belmont cannot always accommodate all groups in its currently available spaces, she said “we continue to work and recognize those issues and we are continuing to work diligently.”
Besides spacing, another question posed to senior leadership was what Belmont is doing to better protect students from sexual violence. Vice President for Administration and University Counsel Jason Rogers said Chief Pat Cunningham has introduced a number of initiatives this year Campus Security.
“One of Chief Cunningham’s first acts was to create the position of Coordinator of Security Programs,” Rogers said.
According to Belmont’s website, “The Coordinator of Security Programs serves as a confidential advisor and can generally talk to a victim without revealing any personally identifying information about an incident to the university.”
Rogers’ office is also currently engaged in rolling out a new mandatory online training program for all Belmont employees “that will educate them about their responsibilities to work with students and with employees to make sure that people are safe and protected,” he said.
The final question was an anonymous inquiry read out to the panel by SGA President Jeanette Morelan. The panelists were asked what is something they would each like to be able to say about Belmont in the future.
“I hope Belmont will be more seen and regarded as Nashville’s university,” Rogers said.
Belmont’s positive output into the community at large should continue to expand, Vice President for the Office of Development and External Relations Dr. Perry Moulds said.
“I hope we are able to keep spreading Belmont’s message through Nashville, the region, the nation and the world,” said Moulds.
This article was written by Grayson Hester and Will Hadden.