Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


The new complaints department


“Parking sucks,”  “save the philosophy department,” and “bring back Green Mann.”

These were just a few things students complained about and demanded at the first ever Student Government Focus Group. 

“The purpose was to listen to students’ concerns and assure them Student Government is working for them,” said Chief Justice Nicholas Scalice. 

The focus group took place in the Student Union Grand Palm Room on March 23 at 12:30 p.m.

For one hour, students told SG what they disliked about FAU and suggested how to make things better for students. 

SG representatives—like Scalice, House Speaker Boris Bastidas, and Vice President Evan Konecky—discussed how SG would address their complaints and suggestions. 

Students like Undecided Freshman Christine Stanley enjoyed being part of the focus group and eating the free pizza.  She said she believes SG listened well, and will solve the problems put forth to them. 

Three Philosophy Club members were also in attendance, hoping that SG would do something to help save the philosophy department from being shut down. 

 “We didn’t get much signatures, but connected with key SG officials,” said Rafael Gomez, treasurer of the philosophy club.

There were 24 students at the focus group—14 of whom were SG members.  According to Bastidas, there will be another focus group session next week at the same time on the same day.  There will be free food.

Below is a list of students’ complaints and suggestions, and what SG plans to do about them as told to the UP.  Bastidas said many of these will be addressed in the summer because SG is “zeroed in” on using what is left of its budget to make purchases before the end of June, when the fiscal year ends.

ESTABLISH AN FAU CREDIT UNION:  SG will meet with the administration over the summer to discuss how a credit union can be established on campus, Bastidas said.

GET RID OF BANKATLANTIC:  According to Bastidas, SG would be very hard-pressed to make FAU break its contract with BankAtlantic.  “Contracts are way out of our league.”  He said that SG has no plans to get rid of BankAtlantic. 

MORE PARKING:  For the first 15 minutes of the focus group session, students were quick to blast FAU’s lack of parking.  Unfortunately, said Bastidas, SG can’t build a new parking garage as it doesn’t have enough money for one.  “I would hope [FAU looks] into adding another floor to the garage” on the east side of campus, Bastidas told students.  He believes that, as FAU grows, there will be more parking lots, but they will be further away.  He would like to see Lot 24, the parking lot southwest of the western garage, turned into a parking garage. 

RELAX PARKING TICKET POLICY:   One major complaint was the toughness of parking ticket rules.  One student regaled the focus group with a time he parked his FAU-decal-bearing car in a parking metered spot, paid the meter, and still got a parking ticket.  On this point, Bastidas was firm in his position that FAU should first issue a warning instead of a fine.

“I think that if you get a warning for underage drinking, you should get a warning for parking,” Bastidas said.  As for what SG’s going to do about it, Bastidas said they would meet with administration over the summer in order to change the ticket fining rules.

IMPROVE THE SHUTTLE SYSTEM:  Both Bastidas and Scalice said that SG can buy a new bus, but SG would have to meet with administration regarding funding its operation—that is, paying for maintenance and salaries.

IMPROVE LIGHTING IN THE PARKING GARAGES:  Bastidas doesn’t want SG to have to pay for better garage lighting.  Instead, he thinks Facilities Planning should pay for it.  “Facilities, like lighting should already be there” since students already pay for them out of fees.  He said that, over the summer, SG will work with Facilities Planning to fix this problem.

MORE VEGETERIAN OPTIONS IN BREEZEWAY FOOD COURT:  Like with BankAtlantic, SG cannot directly affect what food is served on campus, Bastidas said.  Over the summer, he said, SG will propose to Chartwells, the company that provides food to FAU, a plan to add more vegetarian food to the Breezeway food court.  The plan is to replace the breakfast area of Outtakes with a vegetarian food area.  The rationale, according to Bastidas, is that there are already other breakfast-food stores like Einstein’s, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts.

THE BURROW IS TOO HOT:  At the end of her classes in the Burrow, Stanley is coated in sweat.  “There’s no AC … and barely any breeze,” she complained.  Bastidas said that to fix this problem, SG would meet with Facilities Planning in order to come up with a solution.  “If money is the problem, we could fund it, but I’d rather they did,” he said, again under the reasoning that since students already paid their fees.  “If FAU has enough money to build a big stadium, a pool, and a gym, they should have money for AC.”

GREEK HOUSING:  “I don’t think we have the money to fund it,” Bastidas said.  During the session, Konecky told students that FAU is expected to have Greek housing by 2018.  He also said that there was a possibility that some University Village apartments could be converted to temporarily meet Greek housing needs.  Two other possible locations for Greek housing are in the “grassy areas” near the University Village apartments and behind the new football stadium.  “Eventually, it will happen,” Bastidas said.  He said that during the summer, SG will ask FAU administration what the holdup on the Greek housing is.

BRING GREEN MANN BACK:  Bastidas said he has no plans on helping get the Green Mann ban lifted.  “But if people are dying for him to come back,” he adds, “then we’ll … look into his case” at the FAU police department.  “Right now, I have better things to do …  I hope that future SG leaders don’t utilize Green Mann … His problem was he got too involved in the [Spring 2011] election, and that ruffled people’s feathers,” Bastidas said of the spandex-clad man.  “He could’ve been a tradition. But now that he’s gotten involved with the elections, that’s tainted.” 

ALLOW ONE-PERSON STUDY ROOMS IN THE LIBRARY:  Currently, the library requires that each of its study rooms must be reserved by at least two people.  One suggestion at the focus group was to relax this rule so that it would be possible for one person to reserve a room for study since it was otherwise “noisy” in the library.  Scalice believes that the silent zones on the upper floors of the library are already quiet enough.  He says, however, that SG will work with the library to see if the silent zones are “too loud.”  If they are, then the effort will be to make the silent zones silent. 

MORE TABLES AT THE LIBRARY:  To this suggestion, Scalice smiled and said, “Where?”  There isn’t enough room in the library for another table, he said.  He adds, though, that SG is working with the Library Renovation Committee to add more space to the building.

GUIDANCE/HELP WITH THE LIBRARY CATOLOG:  One point raised during the focus group session was that the way the library organizes its books is “confusing,” according to Alexa Majdalawi, a senior double majoring in journalism and political science.  Bastidas said SG could look into adding more informational signs to help guide book-seekers, but will not change the way books are classified since “other libraries do it this way.”

RENOVATING THE LIBRARY TO MAKE IT CLEANER AND MORE USABLE:  Bastidas said that SG will be working with the Library Renovation Committee during the summer to address this complaint.

RAISE FUNDING FOR THE PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT:  As reported by the UP, the philosophy department could be completely defunded.  Although those potentially affected have every right to be worried, Bastidas said, the department might not actually get cut.  Every year “you hear rumors that some department will get eliminated … It’s a way to scare the [state] legislature … ‘If you cut this, you have to cut this and that.’  Then the legislature says ‘Oh no, here’s your money … We were never going to cut anything.'”  He added some caution, though, by saying “you never know when the big one’s coming.”  Despite that, he maintains the threat of cuts is a way to “scare the legislature.”

MORE BENCHES ON CAMPUS:  “There should be at least 4 new benches,” Bastidas said, addressing a complaint made by Stanley that there was no place to sit along the walkway between the Student Union and the Breezeway.  “I’d like to sit in the sun, but the benches are usually filled up,” Stanley said.  In the two days following the focus group session, SG would ask Facilities Planning to approve new benches along the walkway.  SG will then purchase the benches that Facilities Planning approves.  “They will be up in May or June,” Bastidas said.

SIGNS IN FRONT OF THE LIBRARY WITH ALTERNATE STUDY AREAS IF THE LIBRARY IS FULL:  A complaint brought up was that when the library’s study areas are full, students don’t know where else to go to study even when there are other areas.  To address this, it was suggested that there be a sign in front of the library directing students to the Hillel Center or College of Business lobby.  Bastidas said that over the next week, SG would meet with Facilities Planning and people in charge of places like the Hillel Center in order to get approval to put the sign up, and put alternate study areas on the sign.  Bastidas said he hopes to have the sign up before July.

USE MYFAU ANNOUNCEMENTS TO ADVERTISE SG EVENTS:  According to Bastidas, this is the responsibility of the Boca Governor.  Bastidas said he would tell the current Boca Governor, Allison Gentry, to work on this.

USE GMAIL TO SEND TEXT MESSAGES TO PEOPLE’S CELLPHONES ABOUT SG EVENTS:  Bastidas said that he did not want to risk too many text messages annoying people on their phones, so he will not push this plan with SG.

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