Student Affairs discusses budding student-parent assistance program, campus dining services

Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents and Student Affairs Committee took an interest in a ground-breaking program at today’s Board of Regents meeting and later touched on possible campus dining options.

The Board reviewed the single-parent program Keys to Degrees at the meeting in Welch Hall and finished with ideas for a future renovation to the Eastern Eateries.

In an effort to “create an environment where students raising children independently attain a positive campus experience through support with academics, human development, parental responsibilities, work and community service,” Keys to Degrees has selected ten single-parents (ages 18-24) from Washtenaw, Jackson and Wayne Counties to receive assistance.

The parents moved into Westview Apartments on campus with their children yesterday and will begin classes toward bachelor degrees in the communications and nursing fields (among others) during summer semester.

“We have to first help them get acclimated…and then focus on helping them benefit from the whole collegiate experience,” program Director Ellis Buggs said to the Board.

Benefits to students who are accepted for aid include: child care (EMU Children’s Institute, Washtenaw County Head Start); campus and community resources; academic support, internships, mentoring, workshops, and personal development; and skill enhancement, by providing useful tools and services essential to excel and balance demands.

For additional support in the admissions process, FAFSA completion and meal plans, Keys to Degrees approached the EMU Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid and Housing/Dining Services — stirring up conversation among Board members, including Beth Fitzsimmons.

“I was a mom while I was an undergraduate and know how hard it can be… so I’m very pleased that this is being done.”

Keys to Degrees is the first single-parent assistant program of its kind in Michigan, which has one of the highest percentages of single-parents in the country, according to Buggs. The program has been gaining momentum for the past year but lacks any plan for funding after Sept. 27. More opportunities will be shared in the summer.

The Board of Regents meeting continued as two of the 12 student leaders from the Student Affairs Committee expressed their concerns regarding Eastern Eateries and dining facilities, one of the top factors for consideration among EMU students.

Besides a mutual dislike of the out dated facilities, students who participated in a poll initiated by Student Affairs admitted to noticing racial division between students, due to the building’s current layout.

“One side has blacks and other has whites,” one said. “There’s literally a wall that separates people.”

To end this, the members proposed a renovation.

The potential layout would consist of rounded walls, such as eateries at Central Michigan University and Michigan State University and add at least 200 seating opportunities. It is expected this would create up to 50 student jobs, adding to the existing 200 who are already employed by the Eastern Eateries.

Student Affairs said the proposal remains in early stages of development. They will provide additional information to the Board in September.

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