UNC Asheville hosts feedback session centered around student success and retention


Jon Grunau

Infographic by Jon Grunau.

Jon Grunau, [email protected], News Writer

March 13, a group of faculty and staff hosted a session in Highsmith Union in order to glean students’ thoughts about UNC Asheville and the experiences they have had thus far.

“The focus for today is on hearing from current students about their experiences at UNCA. These are the stories and experiences we want to center on today,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Melanie Fox said. 

Student success and retention was stressed to be the main focus of the meeting and revolved around discussion between faculty and student volunteers. 

“We really need to think about the student’s success and the relationships we have with them, and focus our energy into that,” Fox said. 

Several students added their own experiences to the conversation as they were handed a microphone in order to talk about their time on campus. 

A common issue brought up was the multitude of problems surrounding parking on campus, as well as complaints about the quality of the food in the dining hall. 

“I’ve heard a lot about parking issues on campus. There are things broken or in disrepair that haven’t been repaired in years,” manager of the Highsmith parking team Adam Sorgi said.

Students who stayed on campus during spring break were not able to access the dining hall or Highsmith student union, and this was brought to the attention of faculty members. 

“I think that underprivileged students who stayed on campus over spring break suffered a lot from the dining hall being closed,” said Joanna Sass, a sophomore at UNCA and RA for Founders Hall. 

Others say the problems at UNCA are not so much large ones but small ones that go unnoticed. 

“It’s really a lot of smaller problems that compound, and certain people can get past it, but for others those issues just stack and stack until they fall apart,” said Colin Harden, a sophomore at UNC Asheville and an RA in Mills Hall. 

Harden talked about issues with mental health services on campus and commented on the difficulty student’s have had in the past in accessing them safely and easily. 

“I’ve known a couple of people who were interested in accessing health and counseling services, and it being in a building at the far end of campus separated by a thoroughfare road makes it feel very detached and hard to reach,” Harden said. “It doesn’t feel like it has a presence on campus, despite there being a mental health crisis in America for several years now.” 

Not all was doom and gloom however, as positive feedback was also given by the students present. 

“One of the things I think campus has done well is allowing people to be engaged with campus life how they choose here. We’ve done a good job in allowing introverted students and extroverted students to coexist,” Sorgi said. 

While the meeting invited all students, the majority that came were either RA’s or in important student roles.

“I think it’s a great thing that this meeting is happening in the first place. Having more opportunities to hear from the people that are actually affected by new policies is important,” Sass said.