File Photo/ UNCP Photography
Student Government Association (SGA) President Omar Torres is planning on continuing the future plans of the previous presidents focusing on meal plans, residential life, transportation and his own five concepts for this year.
Torres said the SGA was developing a relationship with Sodexo, the food service in UNCP’s cafe. They held meetings to discuss on how the students can really benefit from their meal plans. They came to a conclusion to change the meal plans by adding a “Meal Exchange” program that allowed students to use one meal swipe a week at any of the eateries on campus like Papa Johns, Chic-Fil-A, Starbucks and Hawk’s Burgers.
Torres plans to meet with the new General Manager Mike Mahaffey of UNCP’s dining team to discuss further options for students.
Torres believes students should continue to speak up on getting the printers and desktops back in the labs because they are important resources for their education. He is willing to talk to the Director of Housing and Residence on how to get those resources back in the residential halls.
Torres also took notice the number of students who were trying to attend UNCP after the NC Promise plan was installed.
In Belk and North Hall, there are about four to five beds in the study rooms of each floor. When asked about changing the room situations, Torres said there are current plans for two new off-campus apartments to be built during 2019 and 2020 but it was not yet finalized. He also plans to discuss the possibility of building a new residence hall.
The school is also planning to construct the new business building.
“There’s an idea to make it the face of the university,” Torres said. “It’ll be over by Dial and Sampson in the gravel area.”
The library had its own renovations while being remodeled over the summer. Torres explains to the Pine Needle that the library’s last renovation was over 10 years ago.
“The library was due for remodeling,” he said. “They used brighter colors to give students a calmer feeling.”
The library will also hold a new dining area called Café 641.
When asked about the limited parking lots for students, commuters and faculty and staff, Torres breaks down the “General Parking” confusion. In fall 2018, the parking lots that were originally designated as “General” parking were changed to “Faculty/Staff” parking.
“General parking was originally just for faculty and staff,” he said. “The confusion came around because people thought the general parking area was for everyone.”
He further explained that faculty and staff must have a place to park because they work for the school.
The campus is planning to have new bikes that students can pay to have for a certain amount of time. The discussion is still in progress to help students with transportation.
Torres is excited for the new year and hopes to achieve his five concepts that he has planned for the students at UNCP.
The first concept is to really strike an impact with diversity and inclusion on campus. During his freshman year, Torres worked for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. He respected what they did for students when holding discussions on any open topic. He also loved the diversity within the university.
The second concept is a smooth transition if NC Promise was to end due to legislation.
Torres, who is also the co-chairman in the Student Tuition and Fee Committee, wanted to make sure there was a plan for students if the NC Promise changed in the future. He discussed keeping the student fees to a low-increase.
“I’ll try to make sure to not have the fees increase irrationally,” Torres said.
The third concept is making sure there is an Art Night every month. Torres has a passion for art and culture and he took the initiative of embracing the different cultures.
The fourth concept is taking the initiative to help with mental health. With assistance from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Torres wants students to know it’s okay to talk about mental health. He also wants students to be more aware, so that they can help their peers who are going through any signs of depression or anxiety. Even those who don’t know if they have it. He believes in giving out the proper resources to help students cope.
The final concept is building a better relationship between the campus and the community. He would love to see more involvement, such as students going out into the community to learn about the culture.