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Campus concerns heard during president’s forum

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro answered student concerns on issues such as campus safety, parking and massage services for students during his campus forum on Tuesday.

The forum at North Gym Room 118 gave students the opportunity to speak with the university president in an informal setting.

Andrea Wilson, a sociology major, said it was very important for her to be present at the forum because she wanted to hear what was on other students’ minds.

“There are a lot of issues that students have on this campus and faculty actually had struggles as well, many of which are the same as students’ struggles as far as their housing, their transportation and their health care needs,” said Wilson.

Sergio Bautista, a pre-business sophomore, wanted Castro to address the issue of crime on campus and what is being done to improve students’ safety.

The president said the campus is working to make sure the campus is well lit at night. Over the next couple of weeks, there will be new bulbs that are going to save energy while also brightening up the campus.

Castro reinforced the importance of walking in groups rather than alone. He also suggested that students call for a safety escort to their cars and added that additional law enforcement officers would be deployed on campus in the future.

Student parking was one of the biggest discussions. A student asked what steps are being taken in terms of parking availability.

“I think it’s fair to say that we’re concerned about parking,” said Castro.

He said that it is not the number of parking spots but rather the location of these parking spots.

“We actually have a lot of parking around campus,” said Castro. “There’s more of it on one side then on the other side, so we’re looking at solutions with your ASI colleagues.”

He added that a new shuttle system will be put in place in January. This shuttle service will go around campus making it easier for students who are parked on one side to get to another side.

Additional parking spots will also be opened up on the west side of campus near Bulldog Stadium.

“There are a lot of parking spots around the stadium that are not used on a regular basis that we can actually put to use with the shuttle system. That will reduce the amount of time from your parking spot to where you’re going,” Castro said.

He added that there are other ways in which the university can find additional parking spots in existing lots by adding a new parking structure. However, he is not sure when this will be carried out because students will have to finance the parking structure through the increase of parking fees.

“There’s a lot of ways to deal with the issues. Some are less expensive than others. I would want us to take a look at those together and then prioritize those with the students,” said Castro.

Another suggestion that came up was that of adding massage services on campus.

Cassie Valencia, who was representing the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), said stress can be very high for students and that is why SHAC feels there is a need for massage services.

“I did my undergrad at Cal State East Bay, and this is a service that we have there… I myself took advantage of it, and it’s a very great service and it’s great not only for the stress, but also for people who have muscle tension issues,” said Valencia.

Derek Walters, director of the Student Recreation Center, said this is something that they are looking into having.

“Hopefully, we’ll soon be able to offer this,” he said.

Kathy Yarmo, coordinator of Health Promotion and Wellness Services, said that stress is the No. 1 academic impact that students have reported through the National Health College Health Assessment, a survey that is conducted every other year.

“I’m really looking forward to the possibility of having this service here on this campus,” said Yarmo.