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FGCU Day in Tallahassee advocates for the growth and expansion of the university

Three hundred ninety-three miles separates FGCU from moving closer toward its future as a more expansive university.

On Monday, Jan. 25, faculty and staff representing the university will meet with Southwest Florida legislative delegation members in Tallahassee to advocate for the growth and expansion of FGCU, including the construction of the new student health and fitness center as well as another academic building. They call the event FGCU Day.

“Student Government has assisted in supporting FGCU Day and has selected various students to attend this trip,” said SG Student Body President Thieldens Elneus.

Members of SG were able to attend by filling out a form that was available on EagleLink.

“There are several members of the student government, mostly from the senate, that have applied to attend,” Elneus said. “Our support enables the state legislative body to get a chance to hear firsthand how funding FGCU benefits students. Our participation will give students (the opportunity) to get to know their state legislature and have that experience.”

An annual event that began in 2015, this day will consist of Eagle Advocates following a structured schedule while staying in Tallahassee. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., advocates will meet in the Doubletree Hotel Lobby before first arriving to the Capitol Complex. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. there will be a delegation breakfast located in the Senate Office Building, room 229. The rest of the day includes meetings with legislators from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. with a two-hour break for lunch.

Molly O’Donnell, the pro tempore of SG Senate, is anticipating to show everyone in Tallahassee how far FGCU has come and “the awesome things we do on a daily basis.” SG has been preparing to attend FGCU Day by holding several meetings over the past few weeks, as well as reading up on what advocates will be lobbying for.

“Last Friday, we had an informational lunch,” O’Donnell said. “We met with the director of governmental relations, and she explained everything to us.”

There are several legislative agenda talking points that advocates will be discussing during the event. Those attending from FGCU will be advocating for more academic and career attainment funding, which will, in turn, lead to comprehensive student academic mapping, enhanced internships, as well as the implementation of an individualized web-based tutorial and mentor-style job placement service.

The planning and design of Academic Building 9 will be discussed as well. At the expense of over $3 million, the potential construction plan would meet the needs of the growing STEM programs on campus, as well as open up lab and classroom space in other buildings.

The university’s current central energy plant is at maximum capacity, so Eagle Advocates will be pushing for $9 million in order to build a new one. This expansion will be home to a new chilled water system that will allow efficient cooling and reduced energy costs.

Lastly, representatives from FGCU will be advocating for the new student health and fitness center, which already has $3 million set aside toward its construction thanks to the FGCU Foundation. The 50,000 square foot building will replace the current fitness center, which will be designated for athlete use once the new one is built.

“Ultimately, I hope that we’re able to lobby for our university in the right way and get the funds that we’re asking for,” O’Donnell said. “I also hope that everyone who goes understands how the day-to-day interactions happen at the Capitol.”

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