Oldham addresses questions from students during his Chat with the President

On Thursday, Oct. 29, students, faculty and staff filed in one after the other as they stood in line to get their food and quickly take their seats as Tennessee Tech President Philip Oldham took the podium for a Chat with the President.

Chat with the President allows people to come in and talk to Oldham about their concerns and ask questions about issues on campus. The main topics discussed were: guns on campus, how the university can better communicate with students, and construction plans.

With the recent college shootings at Umpqua Community College and Northern Arizona University, allowing guns on campus has been a major dispute around the country.

“Because of recent state legislation and court rulings, eight states now have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses,” according to an article on the National Conference of State Legislatures website. “These states are Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.”

With eight other states, including Tennessee, considering allowing concealable weapons on campus, students wanted to know how Tech planned on implementing the new legislation. Oldham said he feels that allowing guns will not make this campus safer. However, Vance Bogard, a senior mechanical engineering student feels that having concealed weapons on campus could be a positive change.

“Unfortunately school shootings are increasing,” said Bogard. “I think that one of the ways that we can be safer is to have responsible gun owners be able to protect themselves on campus. I think it’s something we shouldn’t just write off. I’ve carried legally for over two years now, and I just think it’s something that could be beneficial.”

 The next topic dealt with the university’s communication tools. Recently, a survey was sent out about Tech Times and what could be done to improve it, which received more than one thousand responses. Bobby Adams, president of the Student Government Association, also had some suggestions on how it could improve.

“I think that having a sorting system would be nice,” said Adams. “Having an athletic section, student organizations section and an administrative section would help us pick out the important events to each person. Right now it’s kind of a hodge-podge of events.”

President Oldham also talked about the decision-making process of opening or closing campus because of inclement weather for the upcoming spring semester. Last year, Tech students received a whole week out of class because of ice.

“There is one slight change that we anticipate for this winter,” said Oldham. “Last year, we used the traffic light system of red, yellow and green light to let students and faculty know about campus status. Red meaning closed, green meaning open, and yellow meaning come if you can. We agreed to get rid of the yellow light and either close or open campus for safety reasons.”

Oldham also talked about the five-year construction plan for campus. With the completion of Oakley Hall this semester, Jere Whitson Building, Kittrell Hall and Bartoo Hall are expected to be renovated next. Once those buildings are finished, the plan is to begin the engineering quad renovations.