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ECSU aims for more on-campus activities

ColorRun

Elizabeth City State University students participate in the 3rd annual Chancellor's Color Run 5K at ECSU's Roebuck Stadium. ECSU officials are hoping to develop more on- and off-campus activities as a way to persuade more students to complete their degree at ECSU.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, December 18, 2017

Elizabeth City State University plans to launch new student activities at the beginning of next semester with the aim of keeping more students on campus during weekends.

ECSU student leaders in fact have identified a scarcity of on-campus activities as one reason some of their peers leave the university after only one or two semesters.

Arthur Jackson, ECSU's interim head of student affairs, told the Board of Trustees’ Student Experience Committee last week that he plans to talk to students during the first week of the second semester to find out their needs. He then plans to direct money to social and cultural programs to keep more of them on campus, he said.

Trustee Harold Barnes, who chairs the Student Experience Committee, said the university needs on-campus activities but also off-campus activities that are in Elizabeth City. To ensure students feel valued, campus activities are needed every day of every week, he said.

Also, because ECSU is part of a community, the campus needs to work closely with local churches and businesses to ensure there are things for students to do and that businesses are friendly toward students, Barnes said.

"I agree with you 200 percent," Jackson said.

Jackson told the committee he is trying to reinvigorate the Student Affairs office, including improving communication with students, faculty, staff and the greater ECSU community.

The current student affairs budget, excluding housing, is $1.38 million. Of that amount, $1.03 million is spent on personnel, $128,341 on student programming, $76,522 on purchased services, $58,586 on supplies and $58,100 for student wages, according to Jackson.

Only about 18 percent of the budget goes to student direct services, while a typical percentage at other campuses of 30-35 percent, Jackson said.

Jackson said plans also include:

* targeting funds for student engagement — especially on weekends — and more outreach to students;

* seeking money for an extended orientation program;

* requesting funds to address environmental issues in buildings;

* repairing key systems and the physical condition of residential halls;

* providing opportunities for greater “town-gown” relations;

* establishing a food pantry for the university that would benefit students and staff, especially entry level staff supporting a family;

* refining the student judicial system and reporting details;

* developing a series of forums with students, faculty and staff to discuss topics of interest; included would be a “welcome back” event in conjunction with a basketball game

Jackson said the extended orientation is needed to help students as begin their time on campus.

"We're looking to get student engagement and that takes more than one day to develop," he said.

Addressing “town-gown” relations, Jackson said he would be talking to Mayor Bettie Parker later this week. He pointed out that Parker is an alumna of ECSU, "so that should work very well."

Chancellor Thomas Conway said one way city and ECSU officials are addressing the town-gown relationship is through development of the corridor between the university and downtown as "Viking Way." Conway said students have designed concepts for banners, currently on display at Arts of the Albemarle, to line the streets along Viking Way.

Some merchants are very excited about connecting with students downtown, Conway said.

Student representative Brittney Lamb said student leaders are busy planning student activities and are excited about working with Jackson.

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