Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, assured graduate and professional students Tuesday that their community will be included in the planned "student village" and that their voices will be heard in other projects.
Speaking at the Graduate and Professional Student Council's second meeting of the semester, Moneta also gave an overview of his office's goals as they relate to graduate and professional students. He tried to ease fears that they were being overshadowed by undergraduate concerns.
"Some of my colleagues seemed to think we operated only on the undergraduate calendar," Moneta said. "I understand that school doesn't end in May for many graduate and professional students, that they don't have the same holidays and that they go to work on the weekends."
Since first arriving at the University a year and a half ago, Moneta has organized a task force--headed by Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Sue Wasiolek and Associate Dean for Graduate School Student Affairs Jacqueline Looney--to address issues specific to graduate and professional students, such as child care and student space.
"When I first came here... I thought this was a campus that was peculiar," Moneta said. "I looked around and had trouble finding where the social space was. West Union does not represent what a first-class student facility should look like, the Bryan Center is the best of an airport facility and the bridge--God knows what the architect was thinking."
Moneta discussed how the original budget for renovations was only enough for superficial changes. Since his arrival at Duke, however, he has urged community members to think more broadly, to imagine what would be built if the University started from scratch.
The University hired architects from Brailsford & Dunlavey--a Washington, D.C.-based firm that has planned other student centers--to evaluate its options. Moneta said the firm will be presenting the Board of Trustees with a price this spring.
"I think it's GPSC's desire to have a facility [where], regardless of department, students can gather," Moneta said. "This is our one chance to do this right."
GPSC Omsbudperson Elayne Heisler, however, said she was not as concerned that graduate and professional students have separate spaces.
"I think that graduate and professional students and undergraduates are looking to use the space at different times," said Heisler, a fourth-year sociology graduate student. "We are more interested in the 4 to 6 [p.m.] happy hour time while [undergraduates] are looking at 9 [p.m.] on. The key is to make things as flexible as possible."
While Moneta said the focus of the village was going to be weighted toward undergraduates, he said he hopes the additional 1,000 beds on Central will be predominantly for graduate and professional students, staff and faculty. He added there is even a possibility of having a building on Central solely for graduate use.
Some students said they were more concerned with the effects village planning would have on academic opportunities. "I am teaching a class of 40 students in a movie theater. We can't afford to hire new faculty and they are giving [Moneta] millions of dollars," said Tom Scotto, a fourth-year political science graduate student.
Moneta said the funds will all have to come from private sources, as the student village was not included in the capital campaign. He also said he would be careful not to let the village detract from academic initiatives.
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