According to a September interview with Northwestern State President Dr. Chris Maggio, campus leadership has been proactive in response to increased enrollment numbers, setting up meetings to discuss future plans for the university.
“Any time you have growth, you have to make sure you have the infrastructure to continue to grow,” he said. “Growth just for growth’s sake is not the answer.”
These meetings seek to address physical infrastructure on the Natchitoches campus and the potential need to expand certain areas such as housing and dining options.
“What do we need to do… [and] which way do we want to go [with options for housing]? What do our students want?” Maggio asked.
Jennifer Kelly, assistant to the Provost for Academic Support and Auxiliary Services, confirmed the university and Campus Living Villages have discussed adding on or expanding current dorms on campus.
“New housing would not be available until Fall 2019 at the earliest,” she said.
Due to the increased number of students and limited number of dorms, many students had to seek off-campus housing options recently. NSU housing has held an event the past two semesters to “bring the community to campus to show the current students what is available,” as Kelly said.
Another topic of discussion has been NSU’s contract with Sodexo. After the contract between the university and the dining services company came up for renewal last year, the university elected to renew the contract for another 10 years.
Sodexo currently offers services at Iberville Dining Hall, Vic’s and Grill 155 in the Friedman Student Union and Café DeMon in Watson Library. NSU’s Shreveport campus opened a Café DeMon July 1 in response to student and faculty requests for dining options on the satellite campus.
Kelly said there is talk about expanding food offerings “on or adjacent to campus.” She also said she has expressed to the Student Government Association that feedback from students is taken into consideration.
Maggio said the same.
“SGA is a great mechanism for students to have a voice,” he said.
The governing body has worked on a year-long project in response to the parking situation on the Natchitoches campus; students have continually expressed their frustrations with parking on campus and the lack of parking spots near classes, sometimes resorting to ‘creating’ their own spots or parking in lots meant for faculty and staff.
“Parking is a question that we receive every semester,” Kelly said. “I understand the students frustrations with the lack of parking close to buildings. However, typically there is available parking just a short walk away from most buildings.”
SGA Secretary Antavious Roberson served as senator of student affairs during the 2016-2017 academic year when SGA introduced SB.FA.2016-03, legislation that reorganized the campus parking system.
The new system placed into effect this year color coded parking permits, proposed new signage of lots and detailed that education about parking be improved.
While the new signage has not yet been placed, Roberson hopes the system will work toward easing parking issues.
“The new parking system should alleviate [parking problems], and we are better educating,” he said. “[With] the influx of students… there is going to be a small problem.”
President Tre Nelson said some issues students face with parking not only stem from a lack of education on where students can park but from on-campus residents driving to class when they could walk instead.
“At the end of the day, if you’re on campus… there’s really not a whole lot of reasons you should be driving and filling up a lot of the spots,” he said. “You’re actually spending more time driving to class… than you would just walking.”
Roberson agreed and reminded students parking is available near Prather Coliseum, even if walking distance seems like a nuisance.