With every new school year come various tweaks to the TFC experience, but this year has been especially full of new and exciting changes. In addition to several policy changes, I am quite pleased to report on a number of facility improvements.
Aramark is Stepping it Up
I’ll get it out in the open right away: I have always been a dining hall skeptic. For the past three years, I have put more effort into avoiding the cafeteria than I would like to admit, and until my roommate dragged my obstinately defiant butt to lunch one afternoon earlier this semester, I would have been quite content to continue in that endeavor. However, that and subsequent experiences in the caf have caused me to change my thinking. On that fateful Tuesday, I strode begrudgingly into the dining hall and began to employ my typical foraging strategy—drifting aimlessly in and out of the stations until something vaguely struck my fancy. I had almost finished my first turn around the place when what to my wand’ring eyes should appear, but fresh fruit other than spotty bananas. I’m talking strawberries and grapes, people! This was a huge deal for me because a great portion of my grievances against the caf had featured various condemnations of their lack of butter-free produce. Surprised but delighted, I piled my plate and, filled with almost evangelistic zeal, alerted anyone who would listen that there were strawberries to be had.
As great as it is, this increase in fresh fruit is not the only exciting shift Aramark has made. I was quite encouraged to see a gluten-free station hanging out near the soup, as well as a wider variation in the salad bar, with items like pasta salad, chicken salad, cheese cubes, beets (you know, if you’re into that sort of thing), and bell peppers included among the more standard selections. Fortunately, the salad bar has not been the only thing to get a culinary face lift. The waffles have been snazzed up a bit, now including such novelties as chocolate syrup and sprinkles on a regular basis, and the sandwich station has expanded considerably, featuring not only an array of different cold cuts, but also a greater assortment of breads and toppings. The greater sensitivity to dietary needs is definitely a promising step, and a general commitment to more variety is refreshing. It’s great to see that the leaders of the dining hall have taken student suggestions to heart; that our input is both heard and valued should be recognized as a major strength of the services here at TFC. Well played, Aramark. Well played.
Out of the various new things on campus this year, this one excites me the most. If you have ever found yourself making a frenzied dash to the library in order to print an assignment you’ve just finished for a class you’re about to be late to, it will probably excite you too. Now, instead of using fifteen precious minutes to log onto a library computer and process a print job, you can print remotely via myTFC. This, of course, is awesome. The ever-so-handy service is located under the library tab on the left side of the myTFC home page. When you click the web printing link, you will sign into the PaperCut program using your myTFC username and password. From there, you can upload your file and send it to the library copier. So easy! An additionally great thing about this is that you do not have to comply with the library’s hours of operation: if you finish an assignment after they have closed, you can send it to the printer, and the print job will be finished the next morning. Though this is a relatively small change, it’s a really nice option that students can take advantage of.
New Weight Room!
This next camps improvement should titillate athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Honestly, it may even inspire the physically wayward to become more involved in regular exercise. Yes, it is that good! The new weight room is located in the lower level of the student center underneath the Eagle’s Nest and it contains an assortment of new weight machines and free weights. Even if one is not comparing this facility to its rather sad, dank predecessor, she realizes that it is a sight to behold. New carpet covers the floor, space-enlarging mirrors line the walls, and a lovely view of the floodplains composes the front side. And as far as the equipment is concerned, one word comes to mind: legit. Seriously.
I had the pleasure of corresponding with Mr. Lee Yowell about the project, and he said that it is something that student development has wanted to do for a while. After the cardio room was finished, however, it was a matter of increased importance. Accordingly, planning for the venture began last spring. Considerations about location, funding and equipment were made with great care, as befitted the task at hand. The location was chosen for its functionality and aesthetics; it’s a great room that had been out of use for several years. Funding was comprised completely of allotments of the budget specifically set aside for campus improvements, which means that no tuition money was needed to make the project happen. With funding in place, focus moved on to the substance of the room. After talking with several different equipment retailers, student development decided to work with Cybex, one of the leading fitness equipment vendors in the world. All of the machines and weights were specifically made for TFC and are completely American manufactured. All of this said, this new facility is definitely an asset to campus that we can all enjoy and be proud of.
The room is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday to all students, staff members, and spouses. I definitely encourage everyone to go check it out. Just make sure to bring your I.D.! Security does routine checks, and anyone without their card will be dismissed.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to note the fact that TFC has become a lot more environmentally friendly this year. Receptacles for recycling are now readily accessible, placed at strategic locations around campus. This is a huge step up from the previous one that was located in the student center. With this infrastructure in place, it is now much easier to take care of creation. In addition to the recycling push, I have noticed a general movement toward more paper-free functioning. Many professors have opted to display syllabi online rather than printing them, and Moodle is being used more frequently to orchestrate the assigning and submitting of homework. These changes are somewhat slight, but their implications are vast. They represent a change in perspective that serves to benefit not only the here and now, but also the future.
Of the weight room development, Yowell stated, “…[it] really is part of a larger plan to look for ways in which we can enhance the student experience. Students should be able to come back each school year and see something new.” Considering all of the aforementioned improvements, I think we can definitely see this plan at work. These past couples of years have marked a positive shift in the general air on campus, a fact that cannot be overemphasized. After some trying times, it is both exciting and encouraging to see TFC on this trajectory of change and improvement. The Toccoa Falls College I will be leaving in the spring is quite different than the one I arrived at three years ago. While it has always been a great school, TFC has really developed into a place that I am really pleased to claim. Seeing these alterations for the better has instilled in me a greater sense of school pride. And that is a truly great feeling.