In recent debate, people have asked why ETSU has introduced so many new construction projects within the past four years. There’s been plenty of controversy of where money needs to be spent. Everyone’s agreed ETSU needs to grow, but how do we go about doing that with the money we have? Are we spending it in the right places?

ETSU President Brian Noland has been introducing new facilities, modifications of current structures and beautifying the campus. I don’t disagree with his strategy.

Truthfully, as an incoming freshman, there was a lot I felt that needed to change on campus. We were an old campus and a seemingly diminishing one. I liked the old feel of ETSU, but it was also seemingly boring and bland compared to other universities. What was provided at ETSU that wasn’t provided better at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville or the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga? I had toured both, lived half an hour away from Knoxville most of my life, and somehow I chose ETSU. Was it simply because I was native to Johnson City, because my parents attended ETSU or was there something happening at ETSU?

I can say now that ETSU has drastically changed from the campus I toured my senior year of high school. To put it simply, ETSU is growing. For those of us who enrolled at ETSU in the fall of 2015, we’ve gone through college with the opening of the new stadium, a new football team, a new food vendor, an introduction to a new arts center and the Culp renovations. We’re still working on many of these projects, and that’s OK.

ETSU could still use an effective budget meeting, where students and admins host a town hall and discuss where students want to see their tuition funds going. I don’t think universities ask that question enough: What do students want to see change? A football team and a stadium has been a wish for many, and the arts center is going to be a great community addition for ETSU. But what about the other students advocating for fair pay, introduction of new departments and programs, and other resources students see advertised but never fully receive?

ETSU has a ways to go, and it’s important to keep communication open between the beneficiaries and the benefactors of this university. One day we’ll get there, and in the meantime, we’re a growing university. We may still be a mid-sized school now, and though we may never reach the same size as UT, we’re on the radar. We know what we want, and we intend to get it. We’re noteworthy; we’re the rising star, and once we get there, it’s over for the competition.