Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president for Student Life and DeanÂ ofÂ Students, joined the Student’s Association for their Wednesday meeting and discussed next year’s alteration of Smith-Adams into an Honors dorm.
Dr. Thompson invited Congress members to present any questions they had about Student Life to him. Congress members had inquiries concerning changes in sophomore housing for next year.
Thompson said, “The enrollment numbers for next year are looking a lot stronger than we expected, so we decided not to shut down Smith-Adams.”
Smith-Adams is instead being used to kick off a pilot program targeted at Honors students who can then bring in non-Honors room or hall mates.
“I’m not sold on just an honors student community,” Thompson said. “I don’t like the idea that it could suggest privilege to those doing better academically, so we have to be careful with that. I like the idea of a fused or merged experience, and I think that’s what is happening.”
Resident Life is looking to increase student ministry opportunities and working to bring back history and tradition within individual dorm halls.
Dr. Thompson also talked about the possibility of Soul Force, a gay rights activist organization, stopping by the ACU campus sometime this week. Soul Force has previously visited ACU on two other occasions in 2006 and 2011. President Schubert received a letter from the organization asking if they could visit ACU to have more dialogue about the issue of homosexuality on campus.
“We’re having a whole lot of dialogue on this issue, and that’s not going to stop. It’s critically important, and we have to do a better job of understanding it,” Thompson said. “We feel that we should keep doing what were doing and involve more folks when we can in different ways to have this discussion, but we don’t feel that we want or need an external group to facilitate this discussion.”
Dr. Thompson, along with other ACU leaders, declined Soul Force’s invitation and explained their reasons for doing so. Thompson believes that the group will make a stop at ACU regardless of their response, possibly this week.
“This is such a complex issue that no one can get a full handle on. We want to talk about it because I think it is the most pressing social issue of our time, and we’ve got to work through it and understand it through a Christian perspective,” Thompson said. “We care for all of our students. We want to help our students make decisions that honor God whether you are heterosexual or homosexual.”
Congress members were also concerned about the cancellation of Dead Day. Though Thompson was not directly involved in the decision, he understood the reasoning behind the change.
“I think I understand the rationale of getting rid of it, but if I was sitting in a student’s position then I would be a little bummed about not having it,” Thompson said. “I think the goal was to not over crowd students when they take their finals.”
Some Congress members said that their finals were in fact pushed closer together.
“All these things happen for a reason with an original intent in mind, but sometimes it takes getting some bugs worked out,” Thompson said. “They really need to hear your voice, and if it’s not happening then it maybe something they need to tweak.”
Thompson also discussed ACU’s relationship with University Park Apartments. He acknowledged that problems had risen up between UP and students having mainly to do with rental costs. As of right now, however, ACU has nearly half of a 40 year contract to complete with UP.Â The university confronts UP with problems presented by students and tries to make changes within the contract.
Thomson said, “We’re trying to find ways to enhance that experience and reduce the cost of the apartments.”
Congress members also were interested to hear of any plans concerning the university developing areas that surround the ACU campus.
“We’d love to surround the campus with all kinds of things. The one area we do have control over is Campus Court, and we are starting to think about doing some things there,” Thompson said. “There’s discussions about the developing area behind Lowe’s. You better believe we’re having conversations about what might a college population like, but the economy took that big dip, and everything kind of came to a stop. There’s still hopefulness and discussions going on, but it is a challenge.”
Laurel Blackman, Junior President
Diamond Cobb, COBA Representative
Josh Gil, Off-Campus Representative
Shelby Ludwig, Nelson Representative
Emily O’Rear, Gardner Representative
Christopher Sisk, COBA Representative
Christina Wise, Don Morris Center Representative