Fogel Discusses Student Center, Recycling, and Ultimate Frisbee

In an email sent on November 3, 2003, UVM President Daniel Fogel invited the student body to join him for an informal discussion on Tuesday, November 4 in the Memorial Lounge, Waterman Building. Thirty students in green and black striped armchairs sat with President Fogel around a large, wooden, round table in the U-shaped Memorial Lounge at 3:00 p.m. Three chandeliers dimly lit the room. A table of refreshments lined the right wall. A soft rain fell outside. Much of the discussion between President Fogel and the thirty students revolved around plans for the proposed student center. “There is a need for a student center,” Fogel stressed. “Billings isn’t cutting it. It was designed as a library. We need a place where students can interact.” Fogel expressed his concern that most UVM students meet in downtown establishments or in off-campus apartments. Fogel said he wants to provide a facility where students can hang out and meet each other conveniently. The center will have dining rooms, lounges, study rooms, and meeting rooms. The University is looking to promote a campus community. This center, Fogel said, could be a place for “small venue performances…[such as]…folk singers, open mikes, poetry slams.” He smiled. Fogel said the University is moving to create a student center as fast as it can. He said that his administration hoped to raise about $70 million for the project. A student questioned Fogel about whether students were actively included in decisions about the student center. Fogel said students have been involved in web based surveys, that he has met with different groups of students, met regularly with SGA members and members of the student senate, and had and will have more round room meetings with students like this one. “I think students have had a voice, a dialogue, in many different agendas [and] we’d welcome having more [student voices] to help shape the visions and the models.” “What students want matters very much…We are still refining and developing the design.” Fogel said the design team will put it out on a website as soon as it’s far enough along. He said members of the SGA were at the meetings to help choose the design firm. “I will and am promoting conversations among student leaders.” There was a concern from a student about tearing down existing historic buildings to make way for a student center, specifically Carrigan Hall-one of the first state funded buildings on campus. Fogel emphasized the need to create a balance between saving old buildings and erecting new buildings on campus. He said that his administration needs to keep in mind what will most benefit the student body. Two students proposed a solution to recycling UVM computers. They said UVM spends tens of thousands of dollars each year recycling their computers. They questioned if UVM could possibly buy computers from a company who would be responsible for the entire life cycle of their computers, a company that would take back its computers and recycle them. Fogel re-directed the two students to University staff members who could directly understand and contemplate their concerns. One students asked about the possibility of expanding the gym and hockey facilities. Fogel agreed that no doubt UVM “needs a bigger facility. We don’t have an assembly center or big arena.” He emphasized, though, that this is something that would have to be state funded, government supported. He stressed that this would not come out of UVM’s pocket. Fogel said that his administration’s two biggest projects at the moment are creating a student center and an Agricultural Life Science research facility. 75% of graduating UVM students get degrees in Agricultural and Life Science. To stay competitive with other colleges UVM has to consider it’s highest demands. “How about a football team?” One student asked. Fogel laughed. “Sure!” As soon as we “can pay the faculty and discount tuition and have a winning hockey team we can think about football!” Another student voiced a concern that Fogel’s vision for UVM is veering away from liberal arts and towards conservative institutions like Harvard. But Fogel assured him not to worry. “We are in a beautiful natural setting with a strong commitment to the environment [and] we are moving to enforce those values more strongly.” The captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team asked for more field space. Fogel shared the captain’s concerns and related that field space is a common problem on almost every campus, and that he would work with the Frisbee team on this issue. One girl asked what Pres. Fogel was going to do to support the Greek community on campus. She said that sororities and fraternities do a lot for the community and deserve more respect and recognition. Fogel said he recognizes that the Greek community has been “ill-supported and de-centralized on campus.” He assured his support and said he will do what he can to strengthen the system The next round room meeting with President Fogel is scheduled for Tuesday, December 2, 2003 from 4-5pm in the Memorial Lounge.