Q&A - September 27, 2015

A big challenge with commuter students is lack of campus engagement—how do you get these students involved in extracurricular activities? Most commuter students are only seen on campus briefly between the parking lot and their classrooms.

They spend very little time taking advantage of valuable campus resources or services. Being an engaged college student is more than just attending classes and taking tests; it is about getting involved in student life activities, clubs, sports, and special events.

It is our hope that downtown Okmulgee will provide many of our students with the connectivity and sense of community that so many of them are lacking.

Q: Being so far away, how will downtown students participate in intramural activities and other campus activities?

No one has suggested that students living downtown would be precluded from participating in any student activities. Students living in downtown loft apartments will have all the rights to participate in activities available to other students. Instead of getting in their car and traveling a half-mile across campus for an activity (like many of our dorm residents do now), they will get in their car and travel a mile and a half.

Students living downtown are not going to be warehoused in dilapidated buildings and forgotten. This new housing project promises to create new activities for students within inviting downtown facilities. Many spaces will be designed and dedicated for students to interact with one another and gather for group activities of interest.

One of the other facets of value for the project is that by increasing the number of people living in the downtown area, this in turn is leveraging resurgence in building purchases and renovation projects to serve these new residents. In fact, this has already started happening with new restaurants and businesses underway. OSUIT’s presence in downtown is certainly not projected to take away from new business growth; by contrast, it is spurring new vitality and pride in the community. As students living downtown as well as on campus begin to have more options for restaurants, shopping, and services, we anticipate greater student satisfaction, retention, and recruitment gains to follow through the creation of a “college town” atmosphere.

Q: How will you ensure the safety of students living downtown?

This is a wonderful question, and I am grateful to the person who posed it because we take the safety of our students and our facilities very seriously at OSUIT, particularly our residential students and facilities. So let me assure you that security and police protection were at the forefront in the site selection of specific buildings purchased by OSUIT. The facilities that we purchased are located a block or less away from the current City of Okmulgee Police Department.

Additionally, the OSUIT Campus Police Department has already assessed operational staffing needs for the expansion into downtown. And the Dean of Students has drawn up plans for other security measures to be incorporated into the renovation and operation of the buildings including: cameras, swipe cards, additional staffing, etc.

Your questions are important to me. Please continue to forward them to osuit-president@okstate.edu.