Students at separate University of North Georgia campuses are not all paying the same fees, participating in the same clubs or receiving the same academics, in spite of the university’s consolidation in 2013.
Student Government Association, Nighthawks Entertainment and other organizations have separate branches at the different campuses. Each club is supposed to be tailored to meet needs of students on its campus. Although uniting is “doable”, it is in students’ best interest to have separate organizations on separate campuses, according to university President Bonita Jacobs.
Each campus has its own “unique and beautiful culture,” and each organization is designed to fit the campus culture, Jacobs said.
A single SGA would have difficulties governing all the campuses well, Grace Magrino, president of the Oconee SGA, said.
“With the distance, a single SGA could in no way be well informed of its constituents, hours apart,” Magrino said.
Magrino also said the SGA members were communicative with one another despite their differences.
Fees are also different on each campus. UNG Dahlonega campus students pay $65 activity fees; UNG Gainesville and Oconee campus students pay $40. Dahlonega fees are the highest because the campus is includes residential housing. Commuter campuses typically do not host as many events. Each campus’s own SGA recommends how fees should be allocated.
“Gainesville campus typically takes the philosophy of giving student activity fee funds to as many clubs as possible which is how we use the funds to help get students involved on campus,” Meghan Magee, president of the Gainesville SGA, said.
Because of different activity fees, students at UNG Gainesville, Oconee and Cumming campuses did not receive free tickets to the Chase Rice concert in Dahlonega in August. Dahlonega student tickets were covered by the activity fees and therefore “free”. Students from the other campuses paid for guest tickets.
Some education majors, whose classes were moved to Gainesville this year, complained about paying for tickets, according to Wesley Thomas, the university’s associate dean for student involvement. However, Thomas also said he thought most students would not want to pay fees for events on different campuses.
Neither Magrino nor Magee said they heard any complaints from other students.
“Dahlonega in itself is a trek, and students here are either satisfied with Oconee events, or uninterested in attending any campus events whatsoever,” Magrino said.
However, Magrino said she wanted to talk about the possibility of the campuses partnering for the next concert. She spoke with the Oconee SGA adviser and members about funding a few Chase Rice tickets for Oconee students. Magrino wanted Oconee students to have that option, although she said few students were interested.
“Only 14 students took advantage of those tickets,” Lindsey Bailey, SGA adviser for UNG Oconee campus, said.
The university did host a university-wide concert in 2013, providing buses for students. However, interest was small, Thomas said.
Academics vary between campuses as well as clubs. For example, UNG Gainesville campus has a theater program, while UNG Dahlonega campus does not. Jacobs said adding new classes starts with demand from students at each campus. Because keeping costs reasonable is important, the university would not want to add unnecessary classes, she added.
UNG Oconee Campus and UNG Cumming campus do not offer four-year programs. Jacobs said UNG Oconee campus will continue as a two-year campus. Many Oconee students plan to attend UNG Dahlonega Campus or The University of Georgia eventually, but do two years at UNG Oconee campus to save money or boost their grades, Jacobs said. UNG Cumming campus may offer four-year programs eventually as the campus expands. All of the university’s campuses have the same academic expectations and rigor, although class offerings differ.
Jacobs said the distinctions between UNG’s branches is not a negative thing, and is unavoidable due to the unique history of each campus.