Townhall Meeting Recap - Parking and HousingTown Hall I: Parking and Housing on Thursday, Sept 25th @ 7PM in the RLC
USGA hosted its first town hall meeting of the year on Thursday night, during which administrators from campus parking and housing addressed students’ concerns. Vice President of Student Services Candra Long mediated the event. Present were the Interim Director for Housing and Residence Life Jeremy Biddy, the Interim Director of Parking and Transportation Services Andre Davis, and a group of around 30 students.
Davis began the town hall meeting with updates on parking and transportation services at UAB. He opened his talk with news on the Blazer Express, the campus-wide bus system. With an upgrade to the system’s GPS, TransLoc, the app that allows students and employees to track where buses are on campus in real time, will experience less delay and be more accurate.
Davis also notified students of a new 400-space parking lot added to the north of campus. Additionally, he urged students who have trouble finding parking to try parking on the north side of campus, where he said there are lots that do not fill up. Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8:30 and 2:30 on the south side of campus, he said, are the busiest times for parking on campus.
In order to protect students who pay for on-campus parking permits, Davis said that students could expect to see an increase in citation costs in all parking lots. Additionally, students will see the removal of meters in parking lots to create more regular parking spots.
He also answered questions from students. Some questions and answers are listed below:
Q: “Are there any new parking lots or decks developing?”
A: “Yes. The university has made a commitment to add a 1700 space parking lot to the north of campus. We hope to break ground on that sometime between April and July, but that lot won’t be online for probably another two years.”
Q: “Why are citations given at the med school lot across from the rec center more expensive than those given at other lots on campus?”
A: “For one, people who park in that lot pay more for a permit. Another thing is, medical students have very early morning rotations.”
Q: “The parking lot behind CVS is a Lot 7, and is usually not full. Is it possible to make it a Lot 7/15?”
A: “At one time it was a 7/15, but when we took lot 7T away to build the new residence hall, we turned the lot behind CVS into a Lot 7 to give those students a place to park. However, we have reconsidered making it a 7/15 lot again.”
As for housing, Interim Director Jeremy Biddy noted that over the summer, UAB spent $2.7 billion in renovations to the existing residence halls. Rast Hall has a new lobby, new furniture throughout, and new flooring in living room areas, as well as a TV lounge and a study space on the 4th floor. Housing also completed a four-year project in Blount Hall; the entire building now has new flooring in both the bedrooms and living rooms, and new countertops.
The entrance to Camp Hall, which could possibly become upperclassmen housing next year when the new freshman dorm is complete, was renovated to appear more open. The old computer lab was converted to a common area, which with the addition of windows, is brighter and more open. Blazer Hall, although it is the newest residence hall, also underwent renovations with new flooring in thirty rooms. While Denman Hall did not undergo any major renovations, Biddy said it will in the coming years.
Housing also added WEPA cloud-based print stations to all residence halls, which allows residents to print in black and white or in color directly from their building just by swiping their OneCard. Additionally, all residence halls have a new Internet provider, equipped with an on-site staff person to assist students with network and computer issues.
Biddy informed students of a series of focus groups that were held with both students and staff to discuss questions and concerns regarding housing and residence life. He emphasized that Housing and Residence Life is committed to listening to all concerns and suggestions raised by students. One of the main concerns voiced by students was the tedious check-in process for visitation, which Biddy said Housing is looking at making more efficient by implementing an automated system to swipe in IDs.
Following his updates, Biddy answered students’ questions. Listed below are some questions and answers:
Q: “Are there any updates in Greek housing?”
A: “The door isn’t closed on Greek housing, but we haven’t yet found a model that everyone can support, so that research is ongoing. We do have plans for additional housing on down the road, but there is no timeline for that.”
Q: “Why doesn’t Blazer Hall have kitchens?”
A: “It’s just the way the building was designed. The new residence hall won’t have kitchens either, so all freshman buildings will be the same.”
Q; “Is there a reason students in one residence hall have to check in visitors from other residence halls on campus?”
A: “We want to know who all is in the building. It goes all the way back to safety. If there’s a lockdown or a weather emergency, we need to be able to account for everyone.”
Town Hall II: Campus Safety on Wednesday, October 22nd @ 6PM in EB230
Town Hall Meeting Recap - Campus Safety
On Wednesday night, USGA hosted a town hall meeting to discuss students’ safety concerns that have arisen following the recent incidents in the 16th Street parking deck and the University House apartment complex.
UAB President Dr. Ray Watts and Chief of Police Anthony Purcell, as well as other administration and police personnel, debriefed students on their plans to increase campus safety and answered questions from the audience. USGA President Anjali Wagle mediated the event.
Dr. Watts and Chief Purcell emphasized the importance of campus safety and ensured students that there are plans in place to sustain the increased police presence on campus that followed last Monday’s incidents. In the past week, UAB police has patrolled parking lots and decks more frequently and on a more routine basis.
In addition, the escort program hours have been extended to seven days a week and now operate from 9 pm to 5:30 am. Before the extension, the service ran from midnight to 5:30 am. Additionally, the Blazer Express buses will operate from 5:30 am to midnight. Between 5:30 and 9 pm, UAB police safety escorts are available for students who call 934-4434.
Dr. Watts and Chief Purcell also noted that a Campus Safety and Security Task Force is in the works.
Below are some questions that were asked by students and the answers given by Dr. Watts and Chief Purcell:
Q: What is the response time for the help boxes around campus?
A: Less than two minutes
Q: Are there plans to increase security around finals week when students are out studying late at night?
A: UAB has increased security around finals for the past three years and will continue to do so.
Q: What can students carry on campus to protect themselves?
A: Students can have pepper spray, but UAB policy prohibits firearms, tasers, and anything else other than a small pocketknife on campus.
Halloween on the Green - October 29th @ 6PM - 9PM
Town Hall III: Dining on November 4th @ 7PM in the Private Dining Room in the Commons