Tuition hikes, MARTA expansions and more

The Signal Archives
Georgia State University expressed an interest in Turner Field, potentially beneficial to student athletes Photo | Signal Archives
Georgia State University expressed an interest in Turner Field, potentially beneficial to student athletes. Photo | Signal Archives

Georgia State and the City of Atlanta haven’t quit progressing since the spring semester ended.

Newspapers, magazines and social media have plastered their publications with ongoing city and university developments. Here is an overview of five big events – from campus transformations to transportation upgrades to possible sports facilities – that happened during the span of summer.

Georgia State renamed buildings and went digital for event reservations

Georgia State attempted to improve its accessibility and efficiency this summer.

The university renamed its University Center and Student Center to Student Center West (SCW) and Student Center East (SCE), according to a Georgia State press release. Rooms have also been assigned new numbers.

Boyd Beckwith, director of the Georgia State Student Center, told The Signal in an earlier report that the name change should make it easier and clearer for incoming students and visitors to find their destinations.

“The new room numbers are clearer by identifying which building they are in, the floor they are on and they will be in sequential order. If you see SCE 203 but are looking for SCE 201, you know you are in the right vicinity,” he said.

For returning students who might struggle with the changes, new signs have been posted around campus and a map can be found online.

Georgia State student Esteban Vazquez said he feels indifferent about new names for the buildings and rooms but understands the need for renaming.

“I think the school should also explicitly disclose office and department locations, just so it doesn’t get more confusing than it already is,” he said. “It’s easy to get lost on campus, especially for new students.”

Students and professors can also reserve space for events online instead of filing paperwork since the launch of the Virtual Event Management System (EMS). Student Center Event Planning Manager Jeannie Cho said students can access EMS through the Student Center’s event page.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “Everyone is intrigued and excited about [the system’s] capability to accept reservation requests any time of day from the comfort of one’s own home or office.”

Cho said there are still hurdles remaining to get the system running smoothly. Many students still don’t know about the new system and student organizations have struggled with remembering to have an advisor approve their request. Requests must also be submitted through EMS three full days prior to an event.

Tuition fees inch ever higher

Students beginning and ending their college career this year at Georgia State have one thing in common – higher tuition fees.

The Board of Regents (BOR), the governing body for Georgia’s universities, approved a 5.5 percent hike in Georgia State’s tuition this past April, according to a press release from the University System of Georgia (USG).

Georgia State is one of 30 institutions experiencing the tuition hike, according to the press release. Twenty schools received a 2.5 percent increase while the remaining 10 schools, including Georgia State, received varying rates between three and nine percent.

This is the fourth consecutive year the BOR has approved tuition hikes, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC).

For Georgia State students like Vazquez, who is still considered an out-of-state student even though this is his third year at the university, tuition raises aren’t taken lightly.

“For me, it’s a huge blow to my pocket,” he said. “As we become upperclassmen, we slowly detach from our parent’s financial support. So raises in tuition impose a lot of pressure on me to borrow more and therefore get a better-paying job.”

Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the USG, said in the press release the increase in tuition was to “invest in our institutions” and to “continue to offer quality public higher education.”

USG Marketing and Communication Coordinator Sonja Roberts told The Signal in May that the extra cash is necessary for Georgia State to continue expanding its academic programs that lead to student success.

The recent developments for MARTA will make it easier for travelers and customers. Photo | Signal Archives
The recent developments for MARTA will make it easier for travelers and customers.
Photo | Signal Archives

MARTA explores last-mile connectivity

MARTA has been making big moves in changing the landscape of Atlanta’s public transportation system.

This July, MARTA announced an $8 billion expansion proposal, a partnership with Uber and the addition of Wi-Fi on buses and trains.

The $8 billion plan seeks to stretch rail lines two times farther in each direction from where it currently ends, according to the AJC. The plan could welcome an influx of job opportunities to Atlanta, but MARTA still needs financial backing and the approval of state lawmakers before moving forward.

Spokesperson for MARTA Alisa Jackson said the partnership with Uber enables riders to reach destinations outside of MARTA’s range by picking up riders from MARTA stops. Jackson also said riders can use MARTA’s On the Go mobile app to have an Uber waiting for them when they get off the bus or train.

Georgia State senior Trevor White said he believes MARTA and Uber’s partnership is a result of a lack of funding to build new rails.

“I assume [MARTA and Uber] were merging because the city budget doesn’t have any money to invest in MARTA like they should,” he said. “[The city] is just outsourcing to a private company to invest and expand MARTA.”

First time Uber riders will get a $20 dollar discount off their first Uber ride, according to The Signal. But regular rates will still apply for MARTA and Uber separately.

However, the 4G, ad-free Wi-Fi will be a free service, according to Jackson.

Jackson said the Wi-Fi will be debuted on 50 pilot buses. She said if all goes well with the pilot buses, the remainder of the buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi and trains would follow in the upcoming year.

White said MARTA is also launching Wi-Fi because of its partnership with Uber.

Music venues are “dropping like flies”

The Masquerade and Smith’s Olde Bar, popular Atlanta music venues that have hosted countless bands and screaming fans, might have to find new homes in the future.

Southeast Capital, the real-estate firm that owns the Masquerade and its surrounding property along Northside Avenue, desires to redevelop the area into a 228-unit apartment complex overlooking a 4,500-square-foot restaurant, according to Creative Loafing.

The public’s roaring response against possible closure prompted Masquerade owners to post a message on their social media streams thanking the public for their concern and support. The venue did not address whether or not they will be vacating the premises, but their message affirmed they will continue booking shows through 2016.

Smith’s Olde Bar, which is nestled on the corner of Piedmont Avenue, has already been given a 60-day notice to vacate, according to City Reality’s – the company managing the sale – property package.

Morningside Strip Center, which includes Smith’s along with an antique shop, will be sold at an auction on Aug. 28, according to the property package.

Tim Holdroyd, a real estate agent managing the sale, said there are a number of parties interested in purchasing the Morningside Strip Center property, and he expects the sale to close by the end of the year.

However, Smith’s is currently in the middle of disputing the eviction notice, according to the Daily Report.


Is Turner Field Georgia State’s next big development?

Turner Field is officially up for grabs since the Atlanta Braves announced their decision to not renew their lease at the end of next year, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Georgia State hasn’t kept it a secret that it wants to acquire the 77-acre lot housing Turner Field. This past May, the university unveiled blueprints for a $300 million dollar redevelopment project, according to WABE.

The project would include a new baseball stadium and an overhaul for Turner Field to be the Panther’s new home field. Student housing, single family homes and retail spaces are also included in the design, according to the conceptual plan.

Georgia State student Alex Morrison said he approves of the university’s plan to purchase and redevelop Turner Field, because it could lead to better gains for the school.

“The reality is any big school worth a damn gets its funding from alumni,” he said. “Georgia State has a great alumni base, but stronger alumni bases come from higher student count and a stronger sense of school pride.”

Morrison said accumulating Turner Field would boost alumni donations at Georgia State by giving the Panther sports teams a place to call home.

However in July, three major casino companies expressed interest in revamping the area into a casino, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Casino gambling is illegal in Georgia. If city officials chose to build casinos on the soon-to-be vacant lot, Georgia would have to amend its laws, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Although Governor Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed have expressed their distaste for casinos, Mayor Reed said this was not the type of deal to “reject over the phone,” according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.