Student veterans center opening at UF on April 2
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 6:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 6:29 p.m.
Seated in the University of Florida Veterans Affairs Office, Matt Davis glanced around the undersized two-room workplace with a dissatisfied expression.
To learn more about the project and how to contribute, contact the UF Veterans Affairs Office in Criser Hall or visit the Division of Student Affairs online at http://www.ufsa.ufl.edu.
“This is it,” said Davis, president of the Collegiate Veterans Society. “This is all we really have to offer right now.”
In fall 2012, Davis and the Veteran Society met with UF administrators to voice their ideas about creating a larger area for student veterans to utilize.
Plans were initiated once the university established a planning team to brainstorm ideas, said Jen Day Shaw, UF’s associate vice president and dean of students. They discussed how to offer additional services that would help to improve academic and personal growth among student veterans.
These days, Shaw is unable to conceal her excitement as the unveiling of the project approaches. On April 2, the Collegiate Veterans Success Center will be open and ready for use, Shaw said.
Located on the fourth floor of Yon Hall on the east side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the CVSC will provide study space, administrative assistance and a social environment for student veterans.
A grand opening ceremony will take place on April 1 at 1:30 p.m. in the Reitz Union Amphitheatre.
The grand opening, open to the public, will feature a presentation for veterans and a performance by members of the UF marching band.
Student Government donated $25,000 to the project, Davis said. He said he was surprised by how positive UF’s response was and how quickly the idea was implemented.
Although the 1,200 student veterans at UF make up a small percentage of the 50,000 students, they are not of small importance, Shaw said.
“The center will also have rotating resources available to the veterans, such as the Counseling Center, the Career Resource Center and the Disabled American Veterans organization,” Shaw said.
Student veterans will find group and individual study areas, a kitchenette, and lounge areas with a large flat-screen TV and couches.
Shaw is enthusiastic about the accessibility of the CVSC for disabled veterans. The microwave placement is just one aspect that accommodates those in a wheelchair.
“Veterans will actually be able to roll up and kick the bottom cabinet, and it automatically opens,” Shaw said. “That way if you’re in a wheelchair, your feet can slide underneath, allowing you to reach the microwave.”
The center’s initial operating hours will be weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Shaw is aware that many veterans are around campus on nights and weekends, so she expects the hours to be altered or extended.
Davis has had the opportunity to visit the nearly completed center and is confident it will meet the expectations and anticipations of veterans.
“It can be hard for nontraditional-aged veterans to identify themselves as a normal college student,” he said. “This center is the key to giving student veterans more claim to being a student here at UF.”