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6/28/2016 6:00 PM
These notes address the subject of attracting and retaining students. Please forgive the informality, which gets worse as it goes on.
We have an amazing faculty. They have high expectations of themselves and their students, tempered by compassion. They understand that most of their students have family and/or work obligations, that some of them participate in sports or are coping with serious illness. They go out of their way to accommodate these needs without compromising excellence. I would love to see more students benefit from their instruction. So, how do we attract more students?
I’d like to suggest that for just a few moments, we remember how we thought when we were 17 years old. What did you look for in a college? We already have academic excellence covered. And support service look pretty darn good, too. What else?
Here are a few things that occurred to me:
Food options. The menu at our cafeteria is kind of repetitive and not very imaginative. No “grill” or “café” nearby. How about a coffee bar/station and/or kitchen area in the dorms. Do they have TVs? Do the dorms have Resident Advisors? If so, couldn’t they organize some activities in Eureka? Or Fortuna? Or dare we think it – Arcata?!
We have a beautiful theatre that sits dark most of the year. How about opening it up to students for Music? Theater? Dance? How about some family-oriented events? Use of the phys ed facilities? (Too bad the pool isn’t fixable.)
I know some of this involves money, but much of it requires more imagination than cash.
For what it’s worth …
6/29/2016 9:44 PM
Oh god, yes, the cafeteria is awful. Even worse than when I was a student here it seems. But they have the market cornered, almost literally, so what we do right? Well, if wemake it so that there can be multiple vendors here, that might foster some healthy competition and improve the quality of things -better food, cheaper prices, and more revenue from greater consumption and attendance.
That dining hall is looking pretty spacious, are you telling me we can't get one extra vendor fitted in there? At the least let's coax in a taco truck for the patio around lunch!
6/30/2016 8:20 AM
The ASCR met a few weeks ago to lay out the foundation for events they want to make happen this upcoming year and some of the things they are looking at doing go directly towards what you are asking about Sue. One of things was to sponsor a "mobile food court" type of event where 4-7 local food trucks come out to the campus 1 day every week, for a specific time, like 11-2. They are also looking at getting the campus clubs to be more active as well. For anyone who has an interest in student/campus activities, the ASCR is a good place to go. Their meeting agendas and minutes are now posted on their webpages and I know that a monthly newsletter is in the works too.
6/30/2016 2:34 PM
Dining: New management will be on site starting this fall, so we should see improved service and quality. We can check with Dining management in the fall on the suggestion for more of a presence at the residence halls. However, the District is required to carefully follow State and local laws relative to food safety, so any service provided outside the existing cafeteria will likely require a construction project to create a legally compliant food-service space.
Food trucks: Dining Services operates at a loss due to our falling enrollments. This is because Dining Services must be open to serve residence hall students over weekends, student athletes in the dorms before fall term starts, and to provide services all summer for faculty and staff. All of these are times when few students are on campus, so sales are very low. Dining provides a payment to the District to help cover costs of running the student union, such as custodial, electricity, maintenance, etc. Dining could easily get into the black if we allowed them to "cherry pick" the dates and times they are open, but that would not meet our student's needs.
The problem with food trucks is they will only want to come here when there are plenty students, and they won't want to pay for student union upkeep. This will only push Dining further in the red. It's not fair to require Dining to be open when few students are here, then cut into Dining's sales with food trucks when more students are present.
Finally, we did a publicly advertised bid for food-service vendors as required by State law, and no food truck vendors responded with proposals. It would be illegal for the District to give food truck vendors a pass on complying with State public bidding requirements.
Theater: Using the theater more often is a great idea.
7/5/2016 5:40 PM
Food trucks may not work here, but it might be worthwhile investigating the possibility of getting one of the local coffee vendors (Jitterbean? Gold Rush?) to partner with us to set up a coffee kiosk of some sort. I've seen this done at numerous other community colleges, usually at some point distant from the cafeteria. Typically they don't sell food other than some pastries and maybe things like chips or cookies, so it's not a direct competitor, but it gives students a second option. It's also a HUGE benefit for staff! And since many of these businesses are used to operating in small kiosks or stands, the space requirements are relatively simple and state requirements are not as extensive as for places cooking meals.
Possible sites could include the breezeway between Student services and Administration, which could also catch people using the Theater and/or the Gym for special events.
7/14/2016 5:28 PM
We can raise this idea of a coffee vendor. Fresh and Natural attempted to land Starbucks and a few other big brands for a coffee station when they started up here. Alas, CR is just too small for them and none were interested. We are planning to work this fall with Fresh and Natural to try bring in more locally produced items. We can maybe reach out to some local coffee companies about partnering.
10/24/2016 6:38 PM
The key to having a coffee vendor on campus in the other colleges where I've seen it work is that 1) it's usually in a different location on campus, NOT the cafeteria, so students have multiple places where they can get foods; and 2) it's almost always a different vendor than the main food service. Usually it seems to be limited to coffee and a very few "snacky" food items - maybe some fresh fruit and yogurt along with pastries and chips. But if it's placed somewhere that gets foot traffic and is away from the main cafeteria, it usually seems to work well.
I would suggest somewhere near the LRC/Student Services/Dorms, since that also might draw business from people waiting for the bus, people heading to the gym, etc.
7/5/2016 6:20 PM
This is a thought that involves both Marketing and instruction. CR is greatly under-utilized on weekends and in the evening; students seem reluctant to come out here at those times to take classes. However, if we had a short-term vocational certificate or two that could be scheduled and offered entirely on Saturdays, to be completed in only a couple of semesters, we might be able to market it to people who are working or have family obligations as a way to improve their job prospects while continuing in their current job.
This would not work for every discipline. It would probably require scheduling courses in a way that would allow them to be offered sequentially and in a compressed format (say, one course on eight consecutive Saturdays for six hours/week; then the next eight weeks would be the next course; etc.) - but for a limited program with only a few courses, it could be a way to draw in more students and get them through to a successful conclusion. It could also be marketed to students in more remote communities as a way to get a certificate while only having to come on campus once a week.
Another possible way to achieve this goal would be to schedule some of the courses as hybrid courses with the face-to-face session on Saturdays; this would have the advantage that the students would have to be on campus for fewer hours since some of their contact hours would be met online.
7/19/2016 8:52 PM
I like the busier weekend idea... Was wondering, how does HSU do their multivendor set up? Something like that would be great.
7/13/2016 1:48 PM
I feel great concern that we are considering creating a completely tobacco-free campus during a time of low enrollment and financial struggle. I meet with students every day who are already sacrificing a great deal to be in college. I strongly feel that if we have a zero tolerance policy, we may be asking for another sacrifice a smoking student is not willing to make, or simply cannot make at this time in his or her life, in order to persist. We may be creating an environment that does not feel welcome to all of our surrounding community. While we are trying to be seen as a campus that encourages good health, our message may instead be taken as a moral judgement.
It’s also hard to imagine this policy making our campus welcoming to other income-generating purposes. The public uses our campus for events and leasing office space, and those patrons smoke. Using our current patrons, for example, there will suddenly be nowhere for CBI and HBPP employees to smoke when they attend regular meetings in our theater or during their regular work week. What’s stopping these companies from taking their business elsewhere where all for their employees can feel comfortable?
There are other ways we can find balance between creating a healthier campus and creating a zero-tolerance policy. Perhaps we can first more strictly enforce the use of our current smoking tents, or place them farther away from buildings, rather than getting rid of them all together. As our wellness programs develop throughout campus, perhaps we can incorporate incentives or provide active support for student and employee smoking cessation, or other incentives to create a positive, welcoming, campus culture of good health. If a zero-tolerance policy is decided to be absolutely necessary, perhaps we can first watch the enrollment trends of other community colleges that have also created zero-tolerance policies to see if now is really the time for our campus to also move in that direction.
7/14/2016 2:16 PM
I understand your concern and your viewpoint. Our mission statement holds us accountable "to encourage a healthy community environment." To my mind, this calls us to address issues related to psychological health and physical health of our students, faculty and staff. . Making the District smoke and tobacco free supports the mission statement. This is a controversial issue for sure.
7/15/2016 6:35 PM
Thank you for your response, Keith. Controversial indeed.....
I believe in our mission statement, and I stand behind our efforts to consider and support the overall health and well being of all who belong to our campus. But it's hard for me to understand how a sudden zero-tolerance policy comes from a desire to encourage. It comes across to me as less encouraging and more exclusionary.
7/19/2016 8:48 PM
To play devil's advocate, I could see it as encouraging if it's found that more non-smokers would rather attend a zero-tolerance place than smokers would be discouraged to attend. (The market for non-smoking hotel rooms comes to mind.) And since smokers are in a declining minority I can see this more being the case, especially in the future.
If one is wanting a college level education though, I suspect this wouldn't really be a deciding factor. But even if it was, as with the bars, if every competing campus has that policy then it really is an issue that gets rendered moot.
10/24/2016 6:46 PM
This is a really off-the-wall suggestion, and may be controversial, but in one of the marketing focus group meetings last year I seem to remember someone brought up the idea of developing classes in cannabis cultivation. Taking a serious look at that might be worthwhile - one of our signature programs is agriculture, and if Prop 64 passes, we might be able to leverage our good reputation in that area to attract more students if we had a couple courses that were designed to focus on that business.
Of course we couldn't actually grow it (it's still illegal under Federal law), but there are other aspects that could be addressed such as sustainable practices in growing it, or possibly a not-for-credit course in running a business that complies with the new regulations. And it would certainly draw attention to the college . . .