East Campus Background:
In 1971, the President of James Madison University became Mr. Ronald E. Carrier. He was the fourth president of the university and his presidency lasted from 1971 to 1998. While president, Mr. Carrier had many ideas on how to change JMU to increase the number of students and increase the size of the campus. During the latter part of his time as president, he greatly contributed to the expansion of JMU across Interstate 81, establishing East Campus.
What’s on East Campus Now?
The main academic buildings on East Campus include the new Bioscience building, the Physics and Chemistry building, the Health and Human Services building, and the Integrated Science and Technology building. These buildings hold hundreds of classes and thousands of students pass through them each day. Rose Library is the second library at James Madison University that is a favorite among students for its modern look and vast space. My older sister who also attends JMU says that Rose Library is her favorite because it is convenient for students who live off campus. She says that this is due to its better parking situation and better setup than the other library. The Festival is a location on East Campus that includes food options, various events throughout the week, and a lawn out front that makes it easy for students to enjoy in the warm weather. Among all the amenities to East Campus are the three dorms that house hundreds of students, mostly freshman. East campus is full of exciting opportunities for students to engage in. These activities include various events and speeches at Festival and games on the Festival lawn on the weekends. With East Campus offering students so much, why is it that most people find it inconvenient and a hassle to go to East Campus? As a resident and a fan of East Campus, I hope this article changes the minds of many students and gives East Campus a little credit. My roommate and a resident of East Campus, Timberly Deane, shares some opportunities that have been available to her while living here.
Student’s Issues with East Campus:
The major problems that I have heard from various students who live on main campus, is the distance. There are also more academic buildings on the other side of campus, which means that many of the people I talked to have one or two classes on East Campus. Therefore, the amount of time spent on East Campus is not justified in the student’s minds by the longer walk it takes to get there. Also another reason why students are not enthused by coming to East Campus is the majority of the student population is on the other side. There are many more dorms and food options on the other side of campus, making it more convenient for students to stay over there. The overall issue that I have concluded with East Campus is its lack of incorporation into the JMU campus as a whole. Tommy Shaffer, a resident on East Campus explains some things he dislikes about East Campus’ distance from the other side of campus.
My experience in my first year on East Campus:
As a freshman, I was extremely excited to find out my housing assignment before I came to JMU. When I heard I was living in Potomac Hall, my first reaction was disappointment. I was informed of how separated East Campus was from the rest of campus and how there was not much offered. Needless to say I was not excited to move somewhere that people have said such undesirable things about. Gabriel Lee, a fellow resident on East Campus shares the same stigma that I felt about East Campus before we moved into Potomac.
The original stigma of living on East Campus was very short lived. After about the first month of living on East Campus, I decided I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. The dorms are the nicest I have seen at JMU and the people I have met in my building are amazing friends. I ended up loving living on East Campus because of its view, people, and activities. Now with my new housing assignment for sophomore year, I know I will miss it a lot. Everyone I have met in my dorm and the other dorms love East Campus and its opportunities for the students. I believe that other students would feel the same way if East Campus were incorporated more into JMU’s campus as a whole, instead of it just being a small portion of it. I believe this because the one thing that the East Campus students all said in common was that they wish it wasn’t so secluded from the other side of campus.
How to expand and incorporate East Campus: A Student Vision
My vision and ideas for the future of East Campus include adding more dorms in the same style as Potomac, Chesapeake, and Shenandoah. These dorms are the nicest on campus and I haven’t met one person who doesn’t like them. The dorms would fit nicely behind the Astronomy field and would greatly increase the amount of people on East Campus. I believe that the first step to expanding East Campus is increasing the population. This calls for more dorms so more students can live here. Lexi Palley, a resident on East Campus agrees that the incorporation of more dorms will help expand East Campus and make it feel more like the other side of campus.
The next thing that should be added to East Campus is a healthy dining hall closer to UREC. This would make it possible for people to have lunch or dinner after working out and not feel bad about it. This is a good idea because it would also be very accessible to people living on East Campus and would incorporate the rest of campus better.
The last vision I have for expanding East Campus is buying property around the Arboretum. Of course the residents would have to agree upon it but I believe that in order to make East Campus not feel like a small portion of JMU, it has to be similar to the size of the other side of campus. By purchasing more property in and around the Arboretum, this will create incentive for people to spend time on East Campus. With the Arboretum already included on campus, the surrounding areas would really help expand East Campus. According to a professor here at JMU, the university has been sending letters to people who live around that area in hopes of buying their property. I believe that JMU needs to be respectful of the current residents and only make changes if they comply, but I feel like these additions would benefit JMU in the long run. So far JMU now owns over a handful of houses around the Forest Hill area. Eventually, I believe that this area will become fully apart of JMU’s campus. This would be beneficial for students because it would be a very nice place for them to do work and be outside at the same time. Buying and incorporating this property would make the campus a more beautiful place.
One of the most important aspects of expanding East Campus is actually making it happen! It is harder than it looks to make changes like this because of the amount of money it costs and the time that needs to be invested. It takes a lot of student support and of course support from executives here to make it possible. It may seem like a challenge but President Carrier was able to make a huge impact on JMU’s campus. I believe that the next thing that needs to be done in order to fulfill President Carrier’s dream of JMU and the overall cohesiveness between each side of campus is to expand East Campus to help it become more incorporated.
For more information on the foundation of East Campus visit:
*All audio and photos taken by Laura Richwine