Once every semester, President Brian Noland meets with ETSU’s Student Government Association to deliver an update on the current state of the campus and have discussion with the senate on past legislation.
“There are conversations that are transpiring within the general assembly that not only impact the current operations of the institution, but also the manner in which we interact with government,” Noland said.
Noland started his presentation with the Focus On College and University Success Act, which is Gov. Bill Haslam’s drive to ensure 55 percent more Tennessee adults have a college education by 2025. Tennessee Promise and Transfer Pathways fall under this act.
“The FOCUS Act is the next series of reforms, which calls for a change in the governance structure of higher education in the state of Tennessee,” Noland said. “Some people might ask why the governor is proposing this change when the structure has been in place since 1967 and that structure has always worked; some might respond that a great deal has changed since 1967.”
Noland said if this act passes and becomes a law, it will affect shared governance on campus, which will not mandate that tuition prices or academic programs go through the Tennessee Board of Regents for approval.
On most local boards, students can be representative members and give ideas to the board. Noland said he has lobbied for this case.
The next main topic Noland touched on was campus safety, stating that several bills are passing through to be reviewed on professors being able to carry concealed weapons on campus, conceal carry which might lead to open carry.
“Irrespective of your position on guns on campus, this is a conversation that is not going to go away,” Noland said. “Campus safety is critical, and everyone across the state is concerned for students’ safety. Safety is more than just guns on campus, and not every campus is created equally.”
Noland said he is “not for imposing weapons on campus,” because there is not a simple solution on campus safety and further requirements are needed, especially when ETSU’s campus holds safe areas and a University School.
Noland encouraged the senate to get involved and become engaged with conversation and working on committees that affect what’s happening on campus and asked for everyone’s patience on the campus’s renovation process.
“Please stick with me during the growing pain—we’re going to have a lot of fences and cranes, and it will probably look a lot like construction for the next four years,” Noland said. “It’s an exciting process to build a new student center and have a better campus with another parking garage and new residence halls, but it’s going to take more time.”
Construction, renovations, parking and dining services are major issues with most students, especially when it affects their daily academic and campus life.
“You all have a voice—make your voices known,” Noland said. “Call your electives and get more information on legislation you would like to know, and pay attention to big legislative conversations that are going on because they will affect how we operate.”