The Grands, GGC’s Residence Halls, were built in 2009 and can accommodate approximately 1,000 students. However, only around 700 actually live on campus. With such a small community, finding opportunities to get students involved and excited about living on campus can be difficult.
Major changes are underway for student housing at GGC. The staff members, resident assistants (RAs) and students themselves are hopeful that the changes they are fighting for will make living on-campus more appealing and feasible for more students.
“I want to see more of a community in the residence halls. I think that is one aspect that we have that we haven’t fully developed… I would say three-fourths of students aren’t very active in the residence halls,” Residence Director Sandrine Irankunda said. “They go to class, come home, go to work, and they’re not really engaged in their community.”
Former RA India Doster maintains the viewpoint that involvement is dependent on the motivation of the residents themselves.
“GGC Res Life offers so many things to you as a resident, and it is up to you to take advantage of those things. You can really expose yourself in so many of the right ways by allowing yourself to be involved.”
Current RA Jaq Fautner has lived on campus for four years and encourages students to try student housing in order to get more involved at GGC.
“[Living on campus] changes your perspective about college, from socializing to meeting new people that you normally wouldn’t meet if you were just to commute to and from classes. It opens up a lot of clubs and activities you might not think you were interested in,” Fautner said.
The staff is also looking for ways to support RAs to help them better serve residents.
“We have changed the way we train, hire, and praise our RAs,” Irankunda said. “Two years ago, we created a resident assistant banquet to show them that we appreciate what they do.”
To further encourage resident engagement, staff at The Grands are actively working to make on-campus living not only better for the students currently living there, but they are trying to implement changes that would make it an option that students would consider.
Last spring, the staff started hosting town halls, a monthly forum for residents to voice their concerns and ideas for improvements to residence life.
“It [the town halls] became a great platform for change, even in the immediacy of it. In the beginning, it was just, ‘Come in, talk to me, tell me the issue, tell me what you would do.’ Now it is on a grander scale,” Kyle Boone, Director of Residence Life, said. “Now we’re evolving to ‘Tell me the issues in front of your peers — every month.’ That way we can constantly get a thread of data.”
One concern brought up at the town hall was the visitation policy.
As of right now, residents must obtain written approval from the Residence Life Office and escort their guests at all times. No guest may stay more than three nights in a row or more than 10 nights in a semester.
However, the staff are making changes to make those rules. They are appealing the dean to extend the visitation of non-overnight guests until 2 a.m. in addition to allowing more freedoms for overnight weekend guests.
“We are working on solidifying the visitation change where two o’clock is the time across the board, but there might be some additional changes that come out with that to go with the pilot we had last semester,” said Boone.
During the month of March last semester, The Grands conducted a month-long trial with no limitations on weekends. Residents were allowed to have guests spend the night with no paperwork (same and opposite sex).
“We decided to run a visitation change trial… what we changed was: for the weekend, you can have overnight [guests] without any kind of form,” Irankunda said. “We tried that for approximately one month. It was pretty good, it was successful, I would say. Now we’re looking at how to make it a policy.”
The campus dining hours were also discussed at the first town hall meeting, as they have proved to be another huge issue for students living on campus.
A big perk of campus housing at other universities is having access to the cafeteria and other dining options late at night or early in the morning.
Georgia Tech has several dining options open until 1 a.m., the University of Georgia’s Market at Russell is open until 2 a.m., and Georgia State University’s Piedmont Center is open 24 hours per day. However, all of GGC’s dining options are closed by 9:30 p.m.
For many students, especially those without a car, this can be a huge problem.
“Our students have expressed that the dining hall closes early, and if you live on campus and you have a class that ends at 9 p.m., then it might be a little inconvenient for you to get food,” Irankunda said.
Boone is also planning to create incentive programs related to parking, which is another problem voiced by the residents. Students say that they come home and there is no parking available, though the 1000 lot is supposed to be exclusive to residents.
“It’s crowded. [The] 1000 lot up there, there’s barely any parking spaces, so you have to go all the way to 3000 to park,” resident Terr Jacson said. “There will be no places to park.”
One possible solution to help better enforce this rule was made at the second town hall meeting last year. Students suggested checking to see if the driver is a resident, and if they aren’t, sending them to the 3000 lot. This would be similar to the set up in the B building parking lot.
Unfortunately, Irankunda is unsure of how feasible that would be at this time.
The staff at The Grands are actively working to implement several changes to better serve their current residents and become more appealing to commuter students.
“If you change for change’s sake, it hurts you. If you change for the betterment of the community, that’s valuable,” Boone said.