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Central Campus discussions begin

The first phase of the Central Campus renovations process began last week with meetings among students, administrators and development group Biddison-Hier.

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta, Central Campus residents, Graduate and Professional Student Council leaders and other students discussed the preliminary changes that may take place.

While the firm will return in the future for more student input, its purpose last week was to get an initial estimate of how many beds the renovated campus should have. Central Campus currently has about 1,000 beds total. Moneta said the maximum number would be 2,500.

"When we decide to proceed, the second phase will determine a specific number [of beds]," Moneta said. "We're not ready to talk about what color of carpet to use."

In addition to future group discussions, the results of an undergraduate and graduate student survey will help determine what could increase Central Campus' desirability.

"[The students] did talk about under what conditions they would like to live there and gave exposure to what could make Central more exciting," Moneta said, citing the positive correlation between making the campus more attractive and the number of possible beds.

The consultants also met with members of the Interfraternity Council to solicit undergraduate opinion. IFC President Jeremy Morgan said that relatively few fraternity members live on Central, preferring fraternity sections or off-campus housing. Morgan also said they discussed what could attract students from those locations to Central Campus.

Deb Lo Biando, assistant dean of residential life and housing services, said she was pleased with the undergraduate meeting and liked the idea of building a community that would blend all types of students with faculty. She added that she could foresee initiatives like the graduate mentoring program that began this year on West Campus.

Rob Saunders, GPSC president, attended one of the discussions and said the biggest difference between graduate and professional students and undergraduates is their different lifestyles. He added that the Biddison-Hier representatives were very receptive to graduate students' needs.

"We are typically quieter, have less parties and tend to get up earlier. Graduate and professional students fall into a type similar to the Durham community. There is a need to have amenities there, such as regular hangouts, like coffee shops," said Saunders, a third-year graduate student in physics. "We are hoping there is no cookie-cutter mold for graduate and professional students. [Biddison-Hier] realized that they are building for a community where there will be many different types of people."

Saunders said he would like to see the student survey, so that he could pull together a GPSC group to look at specific need, allowing him to be more informed during future meetings.

Among students' other concerns in the discussions were safety, cost and transportation. Heather Dean, GPSC treasurer, said a lot of people would like to live on campus so they would not have to drive back and forth to classes, but they want to have a safer transportation system if they do live on Central Campus.

"We talked about having central meeting places like a clubhouse where people could throw parties, or just get together play pool or foosball," said Dean, a third-year student in neurobiology. "I got a really good feeling from the meeting. We were given the option of telling them what we would like if we had an ideal place."

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