With construction on campus becoming more and more noticeable at the start of the Fall 2012 semester, many students have come forward with questions of “how can we afford this?” and “who agreed that this was a good idea?”
In fact, ongoing construction and previously completed efforts have all been pre-designated and pre-planned since roughly the year 2000 in Southeastern’s Master Plan.
The Master Plan, which totals about 90 pages, is described in its introduction as having a two-fold purpose: “To establish order among the different land uses affecting the Southeastern campus and its adjacent areas” and to “establish order in the Southeastern campus by organizing the interaction of all activities within, and by establishing a development plan to accomplish the necessary transformation of its physical constitution, as well as its public image.”
The plan also sets forth eight strategic goals to be used as guidelines for campus and student decision-making; one of these goals is to “posses state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure.”
This means for students that the almost 40,000 extra square feet of infrastructure, as well as renovated existing facilities like the Student Union Ballroom and Campus Dining, will bring more modern technology and increased functionality.
This plan is something put into play almost a decade ago, even if only as a planted seed.
All monetary decisions must be run by the Student Government Association before they can be put into effect, and current campus construction is no different: it was approved by students in 2007, and subsequently so were the increases in student-assessed fees that fund the majority of the project. The money is already pooled and put aside for the new Student Union, and according to SGA President Branden Summers, “can only be used on the Student Union rennovations.”
Summers, as well as university President John Crain, believe that the new Union will be one of the nicest in the state, once completed in 2014.
Though the university has faced over $40 million dollars in budget cuts over the past four years, the master plan, in addition to SGA approvals, dictates that none of the money for the $32 million project will be granted by state or federal funds.
Also on the agenda of the master plan is improved parking, which has been another area of stress for current students. As a strong commuter school, Southeastern has an increasingly demanding need for additional and more convenient parking. The plan recognizes this and blames the frustrating parking situation on Southeastern’s “growth explosion over the past 10 years” and admittedly states that this left administrators “scrambling to accommodate students, faculty and their automobiles.”
Another goal, set for immediate implementation, is to restrict vehicular access to central campus (i.e., the new quad) and add parking lots to the outskirts of campus, that might prove to be not only more accessible, but more feasible. Southeastern’s Master Plan is a collaboration of Holly and Smith Architects of Hammond, Ray Dufreche and Associates, Architects Southwest of Lafayette and a team of university officials and higher-ups from multiple departments.