ETSU students utilize a system called the BucShot shuttle service to traverse campus from some of the outlying parking lots. Here a group of students exits a shuttle near Rogers-Stout Hall. (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)
Parking lots, sidewalks, roads and even restaurants are some of the new features on the campus of East Tennessee State University this fall.
Monday was the beginning of the fall 2013 semester. Students began arriving on campus early, with a steady flow of traffic increasing by 7:30 a.m.
See a related video and photo gallery at the end of this article.
Much attention had been placed of late on the opening of parking lot 21, near Warf-Pickle Hall and a 1,200-space parking garage currently being built. Administrators had feared the parking lot and a road that leads to it would not be accessible in time for the start of class.
But they were accessible.
Aaron Yoakum, a senior majoring in engineering construction, was among the first students to park in the new Lot 21.
“I like it,” he said before heading off to class. “It looks a lot different than it did last year. It looks a lot better. But it’ll be interesting to see, maybe the middle of the week what it’s like.”
Despite fears that parking could be problematic, Yoakum had no trouble getting on campus.
“I kind of expected (it to be) a little bit more difficult, but it wasn’t at all,” he said. “I like it so far.”
Besides the opening of the parking lot and the campus entrance, the campus quad was open to pedestrian traffic. This quad is located at the center of campus. Landscaping has not yet been placed but that should happen soon.
Students were moving across the sidewalks in increasing numbers as the morning wore on.
David Collins, vice president for finance and administration at ETSU, was walking the campus Monday morning seeing how things were going, giving directions to students who were unsure how to get around and checking on parking/traffic conditions.
“It’s still early, and just looking over the lots everything appears to be smooth right now,” he said around 8:30 a.m. “We’ll be out here monitoring the lots all day and kind of seeing where we’re at.”
Kaitlin Jacobs and her friend Katie Campbell, both freshmen from Bluff City, were among the commuters who arrived on campus Monday.
Jacobs, who is majoring in psychology and wants to work with autistic children, said she commutes because Bluff City is close to campus.
“I live pretty close anyway, so I just figured I could drive the extra couple of minutes,” she said. “It’s not that far away.”
She had not had a class by the time she spoke to a Press reporter but thought the campus was nice despite having a bit of trouble parking.
“I think, hopefully, the parking garage will help things out because it was kind of rough finding a spot today,” Jacobs said.
Campbell, a nursing major whose goal is to work in a neonatal unit at a hospital, said she carpooled with friends so parking was not a big deal.
“We parked far but walking’s not too bad,” she said.
Asked about attending ETSU, she had positive things to say.
“I like it,” Campbell said. “It’s a little overwhelming because we’re used to one building and now we have to go to three or four different ones a day.”
One of those buildings most students find themselves in at one time or another is the D.P. Culp University Center, which is home to food, the post office, meeting spaces and other useful things.
Among the new features in the Culp Center this year is a Taco Bell Express, which began serving tacos, burritos and nachos to hungry students at 10 a.m. A new salad bar opened nearby, as well.
Another feature of the Culp Center is a book store, which can usually be helpful for someone attending class.
Rich Minton, Elizabethton, a senior who was majoring in history and minoring in secondary education, said he had just bought $600 worth of books when stopped as he was leaving the store.
That may have been pricey, but Minton said it was worth it. His mother is pushing him to do well in school so he can get a good job.
“Just coming to college has been something I wanted to do,” he said. “Come through three years in a row now, doing fairly well.”
He, too, lives close enough to commute. Several of his friends also attend the school, which gives it a more familiar feel, he said before lugging his purchases to his next destination.
“It’s almost like a high school to me, having friends here and then coming back,” he said.