Volume 16 • Issue 2
Pinsky Speaks
Students often socialize or brush up on their pool game at the cove.

Home Improvement

Meghan Coyner, Class of 2006
Improving Student Life at Southwestern

Southwestern University is often blanketed by a quiet calm. While calm and quiet are essential to creating a strong academic environment, the two terms are not often used to describe a fun, socially engaging environment, which is precisely where Southwestern recognized a need for change.

Jerry Brody, vice president for student life, is addressing that need with a significant number of new student initiatives aimed directly at increasing the social activities and opportunities for all students. Another initiative provides critical women’s health services and wellness programs to Southwestern’s students.

Brody spent months meeting and talking with students concerning their problems and needs in relation to social activities and student services. He discovered that “on weekends, social outlets for Southwestern University students who wish to remain on campus are very limited. Believing that there are few opportunities to have fun ‘at home,’ many students flee. As one student put it, ‘you either go Greek or go to Austin.’”

Student Congress unanimously passed the first of these initiatives for implementation this fall. They include keeping the Cove—the on-campus student café/hangout—open on Saturday afternoons and evenings, and ensuring weekly live performances at the venue. Additionally, Southwestern will bring a popular national performer or group to campus at least once a year. Says Brody, “Such an event is important in that it both serves the students’ social needs and builds institutional pride.”

As another part of this initiative, the Corbin J. Robertson Center will extend its hours, and Southwestern will hire a new staff member to coordinate added activities and programs. Further funds will be allocated to student organizations to help support their activities and fall and Easter breaks will now include on-campus social activities for students. The implementation of a student activities fee covers the funding necessary for these initiatives.

The health services Student Life initiative is perhaps of even greater concern to the University and the well- being of its students. Brody recognized, from students’ disclosure and national statistics on university life, that Southwestern was not addressing the full range of student health needs, particularly those of women. Plans are in place for: contracting with a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner to be available for assessment and treatment of women’s health concerns; contracting with a physician to provide general medical services; providing weekly on-campus psychiatric services; and hiring a full-time alcohol and drug specialist to coordinate education, assessment and treatment of alcohol and drug services. These plans are currently undergoing feasibility reviews.

It is hoped that the new student activities initiatives will have a significant and beneficial effect on the students of Southwestern. Notes Brody, “We can create a vibrant atmosphere on campus and we’ll become a seven-day-a-week University—alive not just during Monday through Friday.”