Is Theft an On-Campus Issue?

By Drew Miller | Editor-in-Chief

and

Andrew Smith | Advisor

Around midnight between Oct. 6 and 7, Leslie had just laid down in her Lakeside Village bed when she heard a knock on her door. It was a friend, who heard from a friend that Leslie’s moped had been stolen only moments before. 

Her heart dropped. She’s brought her moped with her all the way from her home in North Georgia. While she hadn’t used it as much as she anticipated, Leslie, who asked that her last name not be used for this story, still traveled to St. Simons Island regularly on the motorized vehicle. 

Campus police were already on the scene when Leslie arrived to the bike rack just outside the entrance to Lakeside Village. To ensure that the bicycles outside were safe, campus police relocated the bicycles to the interior of Lakeside Village. At this same time, two of the culprits were spotted joyriding the newly ascertained moped up and down Fourth Street by local police. 

Given that the jurisdiction of the Campus Police only extends 1,500 feet beyond the campus, the Brunswick Police Department was notified. Although the joyriders were lost, they were found the next day in an ironic twist; they were pulled over at a Chevron two miles away from campus for not wearing a helmet. One of the culprits was arrested. Both were juveniles. The City of Brunswick and College of Coastal Georgia are currently pressing charges against said criminals. 

Although Leslie’s moped was locked up via a U-Lock, the most recommended security measure one can use in regard to safety, bolt cutters ultimately broke the lock. The moped was returned after the perpetrator was apprehended, the vehicle was virtually destroyed; the front wheel locking mechanism, the trunk, the blinker lights, the undercarriage LED lights and gas filter were all tampered with and broken. The only way the vehicle can be started is by hot-wiring the ignition. Despite the destruction, Leslie remains hopeful, “At least I got a fresh paint job…” she said when commenting on the fresh coat of silver spray paint applied to her once orange colored vehicle painted by the thieves. 

Although Leslie is disappointed, she doesn’t feel the need to place the blame on anyone or anything in particular she replied

“It’s not the Campus’ fault, it’s not the police’s fault, it’s not my fault,” Leslie said. “All safety measures were taken and all precautions were noted. It’s the two kids’ that stole my mopeds fault. It’s just the way life works sometimes.”

Over the past year, bicycles thefts are one of the most common crimes outside of Lakeside Village, although illegal vehicle entries are an issue as well. Officer Christopher Parker, who serves as Campus Safety Department’s crime prevention officer, said there’s no way to stop every crime from occurring, but there are steps students can take to secure their belongings.

“It all boils down to personal responsibility,” said Parker, who has worked in law enforcement for more than a decade. “If students were to follow what we (College of Coastal Georgia Campus Police) recommend, theft would happen less. It is remarkable how many times we get calls that could have been prevented. Students leave their cars unlocked with valuables inside. This makes the cars easy targets.”

The commonalities in theft are based on factors that go hand in hand: lack of common sense and not taking basic security measures, Parker said. 

“It’s simple. Lock your stuff up. Use your brain,” Parker added. “Don’t leave your phone charging in the Library, leave for dinner, return and expect it to still be there. This is not your house. Keep that in mind.” 

While safety measures may or may not be acted upon, CCGA is an open campus and because of this fact, the probability and possibility of theft increases. Bear in mind the shade of the pines and blanket of night make valuables and easy target. The campus bicycle thefts have not been limited to student property. In 2014, four Mariner Recreation bikes were stolen from campus and led to the suspension of the campus rental program, according to Director of Student Activities Andrew Smith. 

“Students really benefitted from the rental program, which provided free 24-hour rentals, seven days a week during semesters,” Smith said. “It was a really hard decision to suspend the program, but we just couldn’t guarantee the bikes would be safe on campus, even when they were locked up. We’re hoping to roll out a modified version of the program in the spring semester.”

Parker confirmed that although some of the crime on campus is student on student, the majority of thefts stem from juveniles from the area surrounding the campus.

“If you see someone suspicious on campus, make contact or acknowledge that they are there,” Parker said. “This always makes those up to no good second guess their intentions.

Expanded Occupancy Housing

By Erin Broomell | Copy Editor

In May, the departments of Admissions, Athletics, Business Affairs, Student Affairs and College President Dr. Gregory Aloia came together to solve a good problem: an unforeseen spike in freshmen housing applications. With Lakeside Village Coastal Place Apartments nearly full, options were few, but the best choice was clear. 

 Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life & Housing Student Affairs Dr. Michael Butcher said the ultimate goal wasn’t to find an easy solution, but the best one for the students. 

“We had few options,” Butcher said. “We could have shut down the housing application, which may have caused those students applying to never come to the College because we couldn’t give them housing. Or they may have really struggled to find housing off campus, getting an experience they were not expecting to have come into. 

“We decided to look at other models,” Butcher continued, “We really wanted to provide a unique model to expand our expanded occupancy.”

For the past year, expanded occupancy meant converting excess ADA rooms (which are a little larger to accommodate students with disabilities) into double occupancy rooms, which would house an additional fourteen students. Coastal Place Apartments gives an additional 88 beds. With the idea in mind to expand expanded occupancy, college officials set about to find a working model.

“We have had good relationships with hotels in the area,” Butcher said, “So we started looking in the area of Coastal Place Apartments for hotels that could provide us with what we were looking for.”

The College initially acquired rooms at Best Western Plus, Comfort Inn Suites and Sleep Inn, but was eventually able to accommodate all students at Best Western and Comfort Inn. 

Dr. Butcher said his staff wanted to make sure students in hotels would be able to have a true campus housing experience. 

Students who live in campus housing statistically have better retention rates and higher GPAs. In addition, college resources help them stay better connected and can easily provide them with services they need. 

“Behind the scenes a lot of stuff happened: working with the owners and managers and having one-on-one conversations with students and parents about what this means. We included them in the programming concerning safety and security as well as code of conduct. We wanted to provide them with the same experience they would be having at Coastal Place Apartments.” Butcher continued, “The president was very gracious. His office helped put together a program for late night dining at McDonalds. We got all the people involved to help build a sense of community. At the end of the day, we feel we’ve been successful.”

Coordinator of Residence Life and Housing Tiffany Davis said student feedback has confirmed the program’s success. “A lot of the feedback that we have received from students is nothing but positive. Ninety percent of our students and expanded occupancy housing are grateful that we found a bed for them close to campus. Some students in the hotels say it is much quieter there because they're not surrounded by another 300 students.”

A few issues have risen from the unique experience: a need for shuttles to and from campus and working with the hotels on better Wi-Fi access for students. According to Resident Assistant Christain Torelli, the good the program is doing outweighs any drawbacks. 

“One of the things we try to do as RA’s is make sure our students can still get the college feel out of it,” Torelli said. “I think we are all looking forward to Mariner Village’s completion, but for right now we’re doing what we can and having a good time with it.”

The College and RA’s have worked to provide as many programs as possible to build community and cultivate an on-campus experience. 

“When we have activities, we try to involve the other hotels and housing as well because we want everyone to feel connected in that community,” Torelli continued. “A little earlier in the semester Dr. Umphress, Dr. Butcher, and Dr. Aloia, came out to the McDonald’s over by CPA and we had a bunch of our residents and they bought us all happy meals. We had the place packed out full of students.”

Not everyone was on board at first. Student resident Colt Brockington was worreid about his placement inComfort Suites. 

“I had my doubts about it at first. I was skeptical about moving into the hotel, but it hasn’t been bad,” he admitted. “It’s different than living in the dorms. You don’t see the same people every day and the staff there is unbelievably nice.”

The success of the model has largely been attributed to the communication and cooperation of administration, parents and students who helped establish it.

“I can’t thank students enough for their help and their ability to see the bigger picture,” said Butcher. 

Despite success and overall satisfaction, college administration and students alike anticipate the completion of Mariner Village in fall of 2016. 

“The relief of having Mariner Village completed – we can’t get that finished quick enough. I wished we’d had it in January of this year. Our philosophy is we truly want to be a residential campus,” Butcher said. 

It is anticipated that the hotels will be used for the remainder of the semester and, if necessary, until Mariner Village is completed, but the models success indicates it will remain a reliable fallback for the future.

Brand New Criminal Justice Major

By Erin Broomell | Copy Editor

A Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice has been added to the list of four-year degrees The College of Coastal Georgia offers. Specializing in Criminal Justice was previously available as a concentration within the Bachelor of Science in Public Management. Now, standing as its own major, it will offer new options and opportunities to students, as well as further the College’s partnership with local law enforcement agencies.

Dean of the School of Business and Public Management Dr. Skip Mounts spoke of the program’s significance. 

“This degree will offer concentrations in Homeland Security and Public Management,” Mounts said. “We are also developing a concentration in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense. This is a great foundation that will allow us to offer the best undergraduate criminal justice program in the state and potentially across the South.

“The degree also gives us the opportunity to enhance our already strong partnership with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.”

Dr. Mounts anticipates the number of students who will opt for the Criminal Justice major will top 70 by the end of the fourth year of implementation. 

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Tracy Pellett agreed. 

“A significant number of potential students and even our own current students have expressed a desire to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies welcome the opportunity to hire students with a Criminal Justice major and the type of applied and real-world experience they would receive at CCGA,” Pellet said. 

“We believe our Criminal Justice students will be tomorrow’s law enforcement professionals and thought-leaders, helping to shape public policy in municipalities and states domestically, as well as internationally, in the years ahead,”  Pellett added.

Criminal Justice is the third new major added this semester. Spanish and French majors became available at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester. 

Students who would like more information on majoring in criminal justice should contact Lecturer of Criminal Justice Business and Public Affairs Cynthia Atwood at catwood@ccga.edu or 279-5909

First-Gen Students Get Boost From Two Grants

By Erin Broomell | Copy Editor

This past summer, the college received two grants to benefit first generation college students. 

In May, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs renewed a $1.16 million federal grant for TRIO Student Support Services Program. In July, the board of the Coca-Cola Foundation approved a new $50,000 grant to the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation. 

According to College President Gregory Aloia, 45 percent of CCGA students are self-identified as first-generation students. 

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Tracy Pellett is looking forward to the TRIO program’s future.

“All of us at the College of Coastal Georgia are excited to know TRIO is able to continue providing critically needed services to eligible low-income, first-generation students from southeastern coastal Georgia and beyond,” Pellett said. “These students have a variety of academic and personal challenges that hinder their potential success in college. 

“The College’s TRIO program has established a solid track record, exceeding the Department of Education requirements and national averages, over the past three years and we look forward to continuing for the next five.”

The $1.16 million for TRIO Services will be distributed to the College over the next five years beginning in September 2015. The Coca-Cola grant will provide four-year scholarships to 10 incoming freshman who are the first in their family to attend college and have a demonstrated financial need. The scholarships will total $5,000 per student over four years, provided the student maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA. First-generation college students who come from low income families or have a disability are eligible to apply for TRIO Support Services provided they are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents and have a need for academic services. Applications are available online or at Trio Services inside the library. 

The College began contacting incoming freshman eligible to apply for the Coca-Cola scholarships last month.

The CCGA Foundation Scholarship application period opens this October for the 2016 - 2017 school year.

According to Vice President for Enrollment Clayton Daniels there is a general shortage of College Foundation scholarship applicants, both first-generation students and others. Although the College has over 3,000 students currently enrolled, the College Foundation only receives about 600 scholarship applications each year. Daniels would like to see that number increase to 1,000.

Anchor Days: The Blue Crew

By Alvin Fernando | Design Editor

A cheer rang out in the Coffin Gymnasium as motivational speaker Mike Fritz awakened the sleep-deprived bunch of freshman assembled on the morning of Aug. 17.

“In West Philadelphia, born and raised, On the playground is where I spent most of my days,” rapped the 570 incoming students.  

No, it wasn’t freshman karaoke night but rather the start of The College of Coastal Georgia’s Anchor Days; the second of a new three-part student onboarding process. The first-year campus oreintation program comes after the discontinuation of CCGA 1101 College Success Seminar. In the past, CCGA 1101 was a two credit requirement for all first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students in Brunswick and Camden.

An enhanced summer orientation, combined with Anchor Days and Coastal Discovery Workshops have replaced the information overload students were previously subject to via summer orientations and the aforementioned 15-week course. When staff recognized westudents were struggling with simple tasks such as connecting to WAVE’s Wi-Fi, navigating COAST or deciphering DegreeWorks, the need for change was evident. It was back to the drawing board for how orientations were run at CCGA.

Cue the light bulb over Dr. Jason Umfress’ head. The Vice President for Student Affairs along with his leadership team proposed a harmonized new student program: the two-day intense sessions of Anchor Days, supplemented by the ongoing seminars of the Coastal Discovery Workshops emulates an emerging model in higher education.

The College’s personal counselor Cheryl Van Dyke, who played a major role in revamping orientation, said the modified approach will prove valuable in the long run.

“We are taking a more traditional approach and reducing the number of hours needed to graduate. From 123 to 120”, said Van Dyke. 

Students spend less time in classrooms trying to graduate, and they will pay less to attend college; $50 for summer orientation versus the cost of a required 2-credit hour course that was essentially non-transferrable.

Anchored Down

During the opening days of fall semester, the incoming students who attended Anchor Days were split up into groups of about 20. A team of current students christened the “Blue Crew” led these groups. 

If you were on campus in the two days prior to the start of the semester, chances are you saw them wearing a royal blue shirt with freshman ducklings following closely behind. 

Orchestrated by Student Affairs staff, the Blue Crew members managed “Blue Crew Time”: icebreakers and games that assisted students in becoming more acclimated to campus life and each other. 

Computer lab sessions were also held to iron out logistical and technical issues and allow students to familiarize themselves with COAST, BrightSpace (formerly D2L) and DegreeWorks – all programs that are frequently used by CCGA students. 

Classroom experiences were also arranged to acclimate students to the institution’s atmosphere. Students attended information sessions where they were informed about their major by the respective department heads.  

“I think getting to know the campus better, people and upperclassmen is helpful,” said Kit Wheat, first-time Blue Crew Member. “All the little questions you want to ask during orientation but you haven’t been here long enough that you know you need to ask them. I think that it is definitely a good thing.”

If you have any questions about Anchor Days, the Blue Crew or are interested in becoming a member of the next Blue Crew, e-mail studentlife@ccga.edu or log onto your Instagram or Twitter account and search the hashtag “#anchordays”.

Your College Now Offers French and Spanish Degrees

By Erin Broomell | Copy Editor

The College of Coastal Georgia has expanded its foreign language program through a new online eMajor system approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in May. Baccalaureate degrees and minors in French and Spanish are now offered. Two career-oriented certificate programs are offered as well: Spanish for Professionals and Teacher/English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL/ESOL). All of the programs are fully online. 

EMajor is a collaborative program developed by the University System of Georgia to complement the Complete College Georgia initiative. Students who are familiar and comfortable with the online eCore program will be comfortable with the eMajor system. It is the same task-based exercises and instruction designed to make college degrees more accessible and enhance the skills of working professionals. 

“If you are comfortable in an online environment this is a degree option you want to consider,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Tracy Pellett said. “It’s a (flexible) option for students who are place-bound, parents or can’t commute.” 

Foreign language minors and certificate programs offer additional options for currents students who want to enrich their degree. “These are a great compliment to any major,” Pellet says.     

The Spanish for Professionals certification is designed for careers such as medicine, criminal justice, public administration and business in which the ability to communicate in Spanish will enhance success. The TESOL/ESOL certificates are customized for teachers, students and professionals pursuing teaching opportunities with English language learners in corporate settings and in private language schools in the United States and internationally.

The college is able to offer these programs by combining resources between institutions. Three other schools are participating in the programs: Armstrong State University (French), Clayton State University and Valdosta State University. Coastal Georgia and Valdosta will offer the full spectrum of programs. Professors for the online programs are comprised from these four schools. Coastal’s Dr. Lisa Noetzel is included among them. 

Program Liaison April Davis said the program has already seen success in terms of student retention. “I had two students who were planning to transfer… because we are offering (the program) they have decided to stay here with us,” she said. “They already know Dr. Noetzel, Professor Mortier and me. It’s familiar to them.”

Dr. Pellet believes the program’s innovative collaboration is a precursor of things to come. “It’s a smart move. We may not have had French or Spanish programs for five or more years if we tried to do this on our own,” notes Pellett.

Current students who need additional information about the programs may see their advisor, April Davis or the Advisement Center.