Master plan website gathers student opinion

As Calvin task forces reevaluate the campus’s physical spaces, they seek student input on the campus’s design, classroom technology, sustainability and hospitality, among other things. One way they’ve sought feedback is through an interactive website where students can discuss their priorities and share opinions. However, though it has gathered a few suggestions, the site has not seen a large response.

The site allows students, alumni, faculty and staff to give opinions, share ideas about the layout of campus and vote on other people’s suggestions. Matt Hoekzema, assistant director of operations for the physical plant and member of the facilities task force (FTF), said the point of the site is to “engage the community on guiding principles to guide the master plan.”

Philip Beezhold, director of the physical plant and co-chair of the FTF, says the feedback so far shows consistent themes of “technology in classrooms, updating classrooms, flexibility in classrooms, importance of sustainability on campus … [and] hospitality.”

In addition to the website, the FTF will have workshops and “town hall meetings” to “give people another opportunity to voice their opinions,” according to Beezhold.

“There are going to be six workshops, which are all going to look different,” explained Hoekzema. They will use the website responses on the 29th at the town hall meetings, which will be 8:00-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-5 p.m. in the Meeter Center. These ideas will eventually work into a conceptual plan for the campus’s layout.

“I really think the process is going well so far … the committee is really pleased with the responses,” said Hoekzema. “We’ve had great feedback [considering] what minimal marketing is out there right now.”

So far, the FTF has only advertised the website through student news.

“We’re finding out that’s not the best way to communicate to students,” said Beezhold.

Jillian Bojema, a student senator and Planning and Prioritization Committee (PPC) representative, agrees.

“I don’t know how receptive students have been” she said. “We need to make a better push [for student involvement] by putting posters up and using Facebook.”

According to Bojema, “[The website] Mindmixer is a great opportunity and an easy way to get a sense about what’s going on with the master planning committee,” she explains. “I wish students would take more of an opportunity because it’s such an easy way to get involved.” She encourages them to take “a couple minutes out of their day” to make recommendations, whether on the website, at a workshop or town hall meeting or through the student senate survey.

“One priority for us this year on student senate,” said another senator and task force member Jonathan Manni, “was getting student input on [campus] layout.”

Bojema and Manni say it’s important for students — not just faculty, staff and alumni — to think about and get involved in this process.

“The campus is here for us,” said Bojema. “To make it home, to make it welcoming, to make it conducive to growing and learning we need to have the students’ input.”

Hoekzema emphasized the importance and interrelatedness of Calvin’s educational goals and values and the campus’s layout. In early blueprints from the 1960s, creators “included educational goals and principles on one of the documents. … Not just a separate piece of paper. They actually included it on the blueprint.”

He says the PPC wants to “encourage people to interact with … what kinds of historic guidelines they want to keep, what they want to change.”


Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the time for the morning town hall meeting on October 29 would take place from 9:30-11 a.m.