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Mack Meeting: Pizza with the President

By Brooke Coupal ‘17

Associate Editor-in-Chief

On October 28th, the Student Government Association held their biannual Mack Meeting: Pizza with the President. This is an event where students can come and ask their questions directly to Merrimack College’s President Hopey.

Questions and answers that resulted from the meeting are as followed.

Why does a residential parking pass cost $400?

This is to help with the costs of snow removal and towing. Last winter, the school spent $253,000 on snow plowing. The school could charge everyone to help pay off this cost, but it is more fair for those who need to park on campus to pay the $400.

Why can’t residential students park in Lot I?

This lot is reserved for commuters. When construction for new residence halls starts in Austin field, parking will be gone in that area for the construction workers to use. The school wants to make sure that there is enough parking for everyone, so therefore Lot I has been opened up for commuters to park in. Construction is hoped to start up soon.

What is the status of the new residence halls?

The college is waiting for the town to approve the building. Once the new halls are built, they will be 350 beds put into this complex, similar to the Warrior Village now. Along with this, there will also be student commons consisting of a second cafeteria, study area, more meeting spaces, and a 24 hour space dedicated to media and communications. The construction for this will take about twelve to fourteen months, and will hopefully be opened by next fall.

Is there going to be a new engineering building?

The goal is to build an 80,000 square-foot business and engineering building on campus. This building will be newer, better, and will have more resources for students to use.

Is there a way for Augie’s to be moved to the old Hamel Health building?

The school is working on renovating Augie’s Pub to ensure student’s fun and safety. They have plans on making Augie’s Pub a better place, which could result in its location to be moved so it is a bigger space. An idea that they have for the pub is to add pool tables to it. They hope to work on this in December.

Has the school considered central parking off campus?

Students responded with this being a bad idea. President Hopey agreed with this. Parking is hard at Merrimack College due to the fact that the college is essentially situated on a pond. Someday a parking garage will have to be built on campus, but the only way to do this is to charge students more (approximately $1,500 a spot). The school does not want to do this. 50 staff spots have been moved off campus to help with the parking situation.

Are the roads on campus going to be fixed?

With construction that will begin on Austin field, involving dump trucks and other vehicles, will result in the road getting broken up again. The school does not want to charge more money for something that could get broken again. Therefore, the roads will be fixed on a later date.

What is the college going to do about the Wi-Fi issue?

Over the summer, the college spent about $100,000 on bandwidth. The college underestimated how many Wi-Fi devices each student was going to bring on campus. They estimated each student would bring about two devices that used Wi-Fi, but instead most students brought five to six devices that used Wi-Fi. The school is going to balance out the Wi-Fi issue.

When the new buildings are built, will the cost of housing change?

The college is going to come up with a new payment for houses. The value of housing is subject to change.

Can Sodexo add more fruit options?

Students specifically asked for more berries. The school is going to work on getting more fruit in Sparky’s.

Can a light be put up by the 114 side campus exit?

This is town property, but the college would like to work on this in order to make it safer for students to enter the college.

Can the sign on 125 be fixed since it is broken?

Yes, once the new dorms get approved. This all involves the town, so they are taking things that the town has to approve, and are most important, fixed first.

Can the school fix old housing options before building new ones?

Yes and no. The college wants to fix the old housing options, but they want to focus on making more housing first due to the demand of beds on campus.

What is affinity group housing in the townhouses?

The townhouses can be turned into houses for sororities, fraternities, clubs, or organizations as community housing. All members will be grouped together to make up a townhouse. Affinity housing is completed before traditional room selection.

Is there a possibility of residents parking in Lot I on the weekend or times allotted for commuters to park (ex. 8a.m. to 8p.m.)?

The problem with this is once the time hit 8p.m., many cars would get towed if commuters were still at school later than 8p.m. This does not prove to be fair for they may be stuck somewhere, have a meeting or practice, or something else may have come up. The college tried to think of a way around this, but nothing seemed fair. If students have any reasonable suggestions for this, President Hopey said to bring this information to Jeff Doggett, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Merrimack College.

Could Sparky’s stay opened later?

Sodexo tried this last year, but there was not a lot of traffic after 7:30p.m. They are willing to try this again, and will create a survey for students to answer about the times they would like Sparky’s to be open at.

As the campus grows, will the college accommodate the amount of people on campus Wi-Fi?

The college will try to make that happen. The college has Cisco, and they need to be careful when it comes to security and protecting the students. They are trying to put a digital antenna system (DAS) on campus to make it better for those with Verizon to receive service. This probably won’t happen until next year.

Is there any possibility of the shuttle going to Boston?

This was tried before, and students did not take advantage of it. The shuttle does go to the train station, which you can then take into Boston. However, if a group of ten to twelve friends get together and want to go into Boston, the college will figure out how to get you to and from Boston safely. Please see Allison Pukala, Director of Student Involvement, for help with organizing a trip such as this.

Why can’t club sports use more of the athletic facilities?

Many sports teams, varsity and club, got added to the school this year, leading to a case of supply and demand. There is not enough hours in the day to give everyone fair time in these athletic facilities. They are working on putting in additional locker rooms.

Is there a way club sports can get access to a trainer if they get hurt?

Hamel Health is the best place for someone who is hurt to get looked at. They are looking at getting Hamel Health opened on the weekends.

Issue on bottle throwing on campus?

“What could be considered a joke could kill someone,” President Hopey stated on students throwing beer bottles at police officers, police cars, and other students. All students who complete this act will be held accountable for it and disciplinary action will take place.

Do you see a trend of tuition rising each year?

“We do everything in our power to control the rise in tuition, but there will always be some tuition increase with new additions to campus,” President Hopey stated. Tuition is always going to increase by about one to two percent each year. The college is very careful with how they spend their money, to avoid large tuition increases. The college does not want to freeze tuition because then this will freeze financial aid as well.

As the campus grows, are more facility members going to get hired?

Facilities have about sixteen employees right now. The college plans on expanding this staff as the campus grows.

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