Chancellor Victor Boschini is used to lackluster attendance at his town hall meetings.
“I hope you all can fit in here, there’s so many of you,” he said to the three students and handful of faculty and staff members in attendance at the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom Tuesday as he entered to start the meeting.
These town hall meetings were established as a way for students to hear about what is happening within the university directly from the chancellor and to ask questions about their concerns. The meetings have been held every semester since the 2011 “Occupy Sadler” protest against a raise in tuition.
Boschini’s first order of business was to get the names, majors and hometowns of the students who came.
“We’ll see if we can get you all something for coming,” said Boschini.
Despite the attendance problems, Boschini said that he thought there were ‘amazing’ questions from the students who did come.
Boschini presented slides about keeping the quality of the university programs high and improving facilities across campus, goals set by the Board of Trustees.
Students were shown a video about the new Rees-Jones Hall and what will go into it.
The 2013-2014 operating budget was also shown to the students. The largest slice will go to employee compensation and benefits (41 percent), with financial aid the next-biggest slice (24 percent).
“We try to show students what they pay for on campus,” said Boschini.
Boschini then outlined the raise in tuition since 2008 (47 percent) next to the raise in financial aid since 2008 (117 percent) and the growing numbers of employees and staff.
After his brief slideshow, Boschini opened the floor to questions.
Maddie Reddick, a sophomore political science major, and Allison Messimer, a sophomore supply chain management and business information systems double major, asked about Rees-Jones.
Boschini said that Rees-Jones will be a “very flexible” space that can be used many different ways. He also said he wasn’t sure about the operating hours for the building yet.
Reddick also asked about the Greek Village project timeline.
Boschini emphasized that this had a “slippery” deadline due to issues with the neighborhood about the parking garage. However, he said that the parking garage would go up in 2015, and after that the process of building and tearing down Greek housing would occur. He said that the tentative end date is 2017 or 2018.
He also mentioned the new parking lot on the former site of the College of Saint Thomas Moore and the possibility of a second parking garage.
“I felt that the people who did come would have poignant questions, and those are the ones I want to hear,” said sophomore physics and math double major Christopher Harms.
Harms said he wasn’t surprised by the small attendance, but he said he came to hear the questions of other involved students. Harms said that the other students’ questions made him think about topics he hadn’t considered before.
Messimer said that even though she wished more students came, she liked the small atmosphere of the meeting.
“I felt like anyone could have shared their opinion and had it heard,” Messimer said.
Messimer said that more word-of-mouth advertising could help attendance, among other ways.
“People need incentive,” she said.
Boschini made sure to emphasize his thankfulness for the students who did come.
“They were small in quantity, but great in quality,” he said.