By: Mikala McBride, staff writer
On November 2, 2017, the Old Gold & Black staff met with Dr. Nayef Samhat, President of Wofford College, for a roundtable discussion. Samhar answere questions varying from campus security to Greek Village policies, encouraging open discussion and a relaxed interview environment.
With the recent security concerns on campus, staff writers asked about any new initiatives on campus involving the ‘open campus’ policy. Although Samhat is reluctant to close campus, he assured students that they are investigating campus lighting and working closely with the Spartanburg Police Department to ensure cameras are properly installed and placed. Despite these steps toward a safer campus, Samhat asks students to lock their bikes and vehicles, and remove visible items from cars to diminish incidents of this sort.
When asked about how to manage alcohol-related incidents in particular, Samhat addressed the drinking culture that exists on college campuses and for adults in a college age range. He believes that the best way to effectively reduce alcohol-related problems on campus is to educate students on the importance of maturely consuming alcohol, without drinking to excess. Solving issues related to alcohol is especially difficult on a college campus, Samhar says, where the party scene is a large part of student life.
One student in particular was concerned with the influx of Spartan High students coming to parties on campus, despite the check-in process coming into the Greek Village. Samhat addressed this issue by acknowledging that with an open campus, high school students will typically come. He asks for students to help in fixing this problem, because they will know when people who are not guests and do not attend Wofford are at campus parties.
As for the recent tuition increase, a popular topic on campus recently, Samhat said that the increase represents a need to compensate faculty and staff at a decent level, operate programs at their highest quality, continue the tradition of small classes and continue growing staff and faculty. Compared to other schools, Samhat believes that Wofford has a “significantly lower comprehensive fee” and that the alternative to tuition increases is an elimination of programs, which contrasts with Wofford’s ideals. He reassured the staff that higher tuition will also include increases in financial aid.
Some of the other big changes discussed with Samhat include the new Campus Union DACA resolution, which aligns with the college’s position, and a new enrollment plan to increase diversity on campus by working with Demario Watts and student life to recruiting faculty and staff of color.
Samhat also addressed some recent rumors regarding the shutdown of Burwell in upcoming academic years, ensuring that when construction begins either this fall or in early spring, they will be working closely with AVI to “ensure that everyone on campus is fed.” The start date of these reconstructions has not yet established, but Campus Union and AVI will be participating to minimize the inconveniences for students.
Burwell is not the only building on campus to be receiving renovations, though; Samhat says that the Benjamin Johnson Arena will be finished in January. Although the bleachers and path hallways are gone, basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts will soon replace them. Samhat is determined to fight for his badminton courts to appear alongside a new track, weight and aerobic equipment, and a black ceiling and rafters.
As Wofford’s campus and the world continues to change, Samhat hopes that students will continue to “be engaged in these issues” and more, both on and off campus.