Rutgers uses student input for master plan
Rutgers is looking to refine and expand facilities in student centers, libraries and classroom buildings, said Antonio Calcado, the vice president of University Facilities and Capital Planning.
They also hope to improve open spaces and adjust scheduling to accommodate bus transportation.
Calcado discussed the physical master plan for Rutgers last night at Tillett Hall on Livingston campus. He said the majority of student and faculty opinion was taken from the MyCampus student survey.
“This is where we get to learn from you what’s important [and] what’s not important,” he said.
University Facilities and Capital Planning is currently in the process of analyzing the data and creating a fleshed-out plan.
This master plan focuses on the student experience. It was more oriented toward operations than the technical details of building placement or construction.
“I’m sure sometime after we’re done with it, we’ll be looking at what happens and changing it,” he said.
He displayed a map of all the places students said they enjoyed, beginning with their favorite eating spots. Livingston Dining Commons was rated the highest, not a surprise to the department.
Other most mentioned locations included the Busch Campus Center and Busch Dining Commons, Woody’s Café and restaurants on Easton Avenue.
Students complained about Brower Commons, the lack of healthy options at the Douglass Campus Center and the lack of dining locations on the west side of Busch campus.
Many suggested a small café and a coffee shop to be put on Busch in the near future, he said.
In terms of socializing, students preferred the student centers and Passion Puddle. They criticized the Rutgers Student Center as cramped and the Busch Campus Center as cramped and dark.
Programming spaces are also an issue. The campus is missing an area for 350-person-plus events and cultural group activities, Calcado said.
Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on Busch campus was the most-cited recreation center, although students mentioned Johnson, Buccleuch Park and Boyd Park as exercise spaces.
He said the older recreation spaces are in need of updates, as well as the ecological preserve.
“It’s 350 acres of open space that sits in the heart of our campus — sits there and all that happens are the trees falling,” he said.
He reviewed the most common open spaces, including Buccleuch Park and the plaza next to the Livingston Student Center, which he cited as examples of how University Facilities would like to improve open space.
“It’s become a point of congregation — a sense of space,” he said.
The most commonly lauded study spaces were the libraries and the student centers. He said they should have more food access, outlets, group study spaces and 24-hour studying spaces. Many of the libraries need more computers to relieve congestion.
Melissa Just, the associate university librarian for Research and Instructional Services, said the libraries are not dead. The number of students visiting increases every year.
They need to be able to provide learning and studying space as well as facilities like computers, she said. Rutgers should look at the spaces that already exist to see how to take them to the 21st century.
The student centers were not created for studying, but they are often used for that purpose, Calcado said. Classrooms could be used as additional study space, but the availability makes them vulnerable to problems like security.
Students preferred newer classroom buildings with better technological resources.
“Some of this is a problem Rutgers creates for itself,” he said. “There’s a general classroom pool … then there are these additional sets of classrooms that are owned by departments.”
Those classrooms tend to have fewer modern amenities.
Rutgers buses are a part of the fabric of Rutgers. In the study, students said they use buses to go to study locations, meet with friends and to go to Livingston, most likely to eat.
Students are the primary users of the Rutgers buses. Sixty-six percent of comments said the buses were crowded, but the system still served their needs.
Almost three-quarters of students have had to adjust their schedule to accommodate transportation needs, Calcado said.
One-third said transportation issues have led them to have difficulty taking required courses to graduate, something he would like to eliminate with rescheduling and coordinating classroom use with residence hall locations.
The most problematic safety areas are the lower end of George Street and downtown New Brunswick, he said.
Students complained about poor lighting on Cook and Douglass campuses. Others discussed feeling uncomfortable about the walk to the west lot on Busch campus.
“This is a perception. I can’t remember the last time there was a crime alert from there,” he said. “But it’s a valid perception.”
Parking needs to be more centrally located and accessible. He said they could also reimagine scheduling and housing to take pressure off of the bus system.
He would like to improve the efficiency of campuses. On a warm day, the solar panels in the Livingston campus commuter lot can power the entire campus.
The three largest expenses at Rutgers are salaries, debt payment and fuel.
Just asked Calcado how everything in the master plan was going to be funded.
“We don’t have a price tag that’s associated with this,” Calcado said. “We’re not going to be doing everything in the master plan in one shot.”
They would use grants, tax credits and business collaborations to slowly incorporate their ideas, he said. They would also take away spaces that were costing the University money without providing benefits.
University Facilities plans to post a complete overview of the master plan online on Monday. By the end of the year, they hope to present the physical master plan to the Board of Governors for approval.
“What I’m giving you is what you gave us,” he said. “From meetings … and forums … and surveys … this is what we’ve collected.”