ECU students speak to UNC Board of Governors

ECU junior Kaitlyn  Dutton, left and SGA President Tim Schwan, right, pose with UNC Board of Governors member Fred Eschelman. (Contributed photo)

ECU junior Kaitlyn Dutton, left, and SGA President Tim Schwan, right, pose with UNC Board of Governors member Fred Eschelman, center. (Contributed photo)

By Chris Stansbury
For ECU News Services

East Carolina University is another step closer to approval of the new student centers and parking deck project.  The UNC Board of Governors Budget and Finance committee met Jan. 9 in the Spangler Building in Chapel Hill to discuss the financial plan for the project.

The project calls for two new student centers – one to be built on the main campus and another on the health sciences campus. In addition, a parking deck is planned to connect with the main campus student center.

SGA President Tim Schwan and ECU junior Kaitlyn Dutton were joined by Brig. Gen. James Gorham to show their support for the project as well as answer questions from board members.

Gorham, an ECU alumnus who also has a daughter attending ECU, told board members that this project is a lot like being a parent.

“When you first get married you oftentimes build a starter home to start your family,” said Gorham, vice president of the ECU Parents Council.  “But as your family grows, you have to provide a quality dwelling for your expanding family to grow and have a better quality of life. ECU’s campus has grown considerably in the last 40 years and the students need a quality place for them to grow.”

Schwan and Dutton told the board members about the difficulty students face on ECU’s campus with Mendenhall Student Center, the current student union built in the 1970s.

“To say there is a lack of space for students in Mendenhall is an understatement,” Schwan said. “We need a place that serves as a living room, a place to meet and collaborate. We don’t have that now.”

Dutton added that a lack of a new student center is actually costing students more money.

“Some students face a yearlong wait to secure space in Mendenhall and for other major student events that are annual traditions, we have to host them off campus,” said Dutton. “That requires extra funds for reservations, transportation and off-site logistics and the cost is falling on the students to pay for it.”

Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, who attended the board session along with members of the ECU Board of Trustees, said this was a great experience for the students.

“Kaitlyn and Tim did a wonderful job of representing the East Carolina student body of today and tomorrow,” said Hardy. “They spoke from their heart trying to convince the Board of Governors to invest in ECU’s future and the success of our future students.”

The next step in the process for ECU’s student centers and parking deck project is the vote by the UNC Board of Governors on Feb. 20 in Chapel Hill.

For more information, contact Dr. Virginia Hardy at 252-328-6541.