As you may have noticed, both the Sun Sentinel and the University Press covered yesterday's decision by FAU's Board of Trustees to approve Parking Garage 3, which now needs to go before the Florida Board of Governors. I don't see any reason why the BOG would turn this down so expect a groundbreaking in January 2013. For more information about the project, check about my original post on PG3 here.
Something that is not requested in the construction document is the implementation as a "smart garage." I'm not sure why FAU hasn't caught on to this idea yet, even if it comes at an added expense, because the most infuriating part of garages is wasted time circling each level looking for spots. Furthermore, both UF and UM (at least, and there are probably others) have had this system going for a couple years now.
For those who don't know, "smart garages" usually work by lasers (sometimes by pressure plates too). At the most basic level, entering cars trip a laser which subtracts a parking space from a computer tally of available spaces while exiting cars trip another laser which adds a space back to that tally. The overall space tally is displayed prominently on an electronic board outside the entry, thus letting you know how many spots are available somewhere in the garage before you even enter it - think about how much time that would save you on a busy day! A more complicated system, which FAU doesn't really need, would actually show you how many spots are available by floor like this.
Hopefully FAU can catch onto this somehow (at least three different Student Government administrations have been made aware of this) and integrate it into as many parking garages as possible in the near future. I don't think any students would be opposed to the idea of using A&S fees to integrate this sort of technology on campus.
So although they're not talking about smart garages yet, the Sun Sentinel did point out one thing that I overlooked when talking about students and staff fighting for parking spaces: the 20,000 (!) seniors in the Lifelong Learning Society program are also fighting for spots on campus. Which brings us to...
SHOULD THE LIFELONG LEARNING SOCIETY BE MOVED OFF CAMPUS?
Understand that I'm not talking about ending what has become "one of the largest [continuing education programs] of its kind in the country." I'm simply suggesting that it might be best for everybody if this program was moved off campus to, say, the old Cartoon Museum building in Mizner that nobody seems to know what to do with.
Moving the LLS to Mizner accomplishes a couple things:
1) Frees up parking space for traditional students.
2) Students have complained about LLS students "invading" their Centre Marketplace and, petty complaint or not, it's something that could be mitigated here.
3) Mizner has more things for seniors to do before/after classes.
4) Gets the FAU brand out into the Boca community.
5) Frees up the LLS building for general education classes to be held there and FAU badly needs general education classrooms. More space means more classes offered and more classes offered means more people graduate in four years instead of five or six.
The obvious downsides are:
1) We'd have to pay to renovate space at Mizner.
2) We'd inconvenience FAU professors who used to just be able to walk over and now have to drive to Mizner.
3) It doesn't concentrate a large (and potentially wealthy) donor base on campus that may "create a connection" to FAU. Judging by our low rate of donations compared to a LLS student base that's two-thirds the size of the overall regular student body, I'd say this shouldn't be too much of a concern.
4) We detract from the main campus being the "epicenter" for education and culture in Boca.
FAU's vision for the LLS is pretty ambitious, envisioning it possibly having an enrollment larger than the regular student body. Maybe that's just me but that seems incredibly wrong. We should be focusing on growing the traditional student base and making sure they enjoy their experience here, which leads me to...
This is going to seem a little crazy but hear me out.
When student organizations want to meet on campus, they're primarily congregating at the Student Union. Although there are various rooms of different sizes, there's still an "office space" sense to them which makes social events - like dances - pretty awkward. At schools with Greek Housing, they can offer better socials because the frat/sorority house has a "home" type atmosphere that we can't really replicate here.
But what if we were to build a one story house in the Preserve area, something on campus but "away" from "campus", that student organizations could "rent" out, like they do space in the Student Union?
Maybe something like this? With a large, open living room area like this?
(It doesn't have to be this fancy, it could be a small cabin-type structure). It would have a large living room area, a small kitchen and an outdoor deck. Student organizations could hold social events there, from game nights to inductions to spiritual retreats. They would be responsible for clean up and damages and we could even put security cameras in there to prevent theft or anything else. This "Owlhouse" would be a really unique addition to campus, especially while we're waiting to finally get Greek Housing going.
Alternatively, a "large living room space with kitchen" that "looks and feels like the inside of a house" could very easily be integrated into a new Student Union... but that wouldn't be as unique!
Like I've said before: never apologize for dreaming big. This is how you compete with the big boys. See you Monday.