Student Town Hall Addresses Questions, Concerns

KATIE GOODRICH | Asst. News Editor

Butler University students have answers to important questions from administrators and an idea of the university’s future after last week’s Student Town Hall.

“I am sure you will see some explosive transformation in the coming months,” President James Danko said. “There has been some quiet time during our strategic planning.”

Six administration members met with students at a town hall hosted by the Student Government Association.

Kate Carroll, SGA vice president of administration, said the Council on Presidential Affairs began planning the event in December. The administration wanted to wait until after the Board of Trustees’ February meeting in order to answer questions more accurately.

The main reason for the event was transparency, Carroll said.

“I think more people would jump on board with changes, or lack of changes, if they understood,” Carroll said. “It’s good for people to be able to hear answers about why things are at the stage that they’re at.”

Danko spoke at the beginning of the event about the Board of Trustees and the direction in which Butler will move over the next few years.

“No matter what happens here at Butler University, the community atmosphere will stay,” he said. “We try to be an intimate undergraduate institution, but we have set our sights on opening up opportunities for the undergrad students.”

The conversation centered mainly around expanding the university and the effect that will have on housing and residential life on campus.

“We have to deal with the current state of affairs,” Danko said. “But we want to gain greater national recognition.”

The president cited the move to the Big East Conference as a strategy to attract more prospective students to Butler.

“Your degree has gone up in value because of men’s basketball,” Danko said. “Not everyone is interested in men’s basketball. Being in the Big East is expanding our national recognition and putting us with other great institutions.”

Butler’s number of applicants and acceptances have grown over the past few years, but growth could also bring problems.

“Admission is an art,” said Levester Johnson, vice president for student affairs.

When the university overadmits students, it have to turn to its bag of tricks in order to fit everyone into on-campus housing, Johnson said.

He said he thinks new housing will solve some of these problems.

“Ross and Schwitzer are tired,” said Rich Michal, executive director of facilities. “It would cost $23 to $25 million to renovate those buildings each. My advice would be to invest in exit signs because we go through a lot of those.”

Danko also discussed a new residential building that will potentially be located near Schwitzer Hall.

“We can no longer tolerate the type of housing we have now,” he said.

The president said the university hopes to add 500 new beds on campus by the fall of 2016.

“There is a chance that the housing will displace parking,” Danko said. “I know that parking is a sensitive issue.”

However, the new housing will also allow more opportunities for soft space, which will increase the feeling of a small community, Johnson said.

Carroll said she thought the town hall went very well.

“We had some really great questions,” Carroll said. “I think it was good to let people vent a little bit. I think the administration was surprisingly candid. They were all so happy afterwards.”