While the changes on ECU’s campus are constant and seem to have no end in sight, most all of them have been for the best, a sentiment which graduating Pirates can look back and be thankful for. Regardless of how long seniors might have gotten to experience the “new,” change is something most can be proud of.
From living spaces to leadership, as alumni, seniors can anticipate returning in the near future to the “new” they have and have yet to experience. Change may not always be wanted but as Pirates, we have all stuck together through it all — united as the Pirates of ECU.
The Dining Options
Since freshman year, numerous seniors can recall their days of sitting in a booth at Destination 360 inside the Mendenhall Student Center eating at on-campus options such as Chick-Fil-A, Panda Express, Grille Works and Bleecker Street. Senior sociology major Sam Kahn is one of those people who has fond memories of tabling up with all her friends and enjoying Chick-Fil-A right after class during her freshman and sophomore year.
During her sophomore year, Mendenhall closed indefinitely to students in exchange for upcoming plans for a new student center opening on Main Campus. At the start of the second semester of junior year, the new building had opened and provided new food options such as Au Bon Pain, 1907 Grill, Raising Canes and The Confectionery & Sweet Shop. The location also provided another full-menu, dine-in Starbucks location and brought over a new and improved Panda Express from Mendenhall’s Destination 360.
The building change was definitely different for those who had experienced Mendenhall as prices of food, space and comfort factors all changed. Although students such as Kahn are willing to admit they will miss former eateries and conveniences such as having two Chick-Fil-A locations at ECU, the Main Student Center brought the opportunity to have a larger space that can accomodate more people.
“Even though the new student center is nice, I liked the feel of Mendenhall because I felt like I could see more people because it was a smaller space but now (because) the student center is so big it feels hard to see people and get a feel of community at times,” Kahn said.
Megan Brakman, a senior majoring in speech and hearing sciences, is thankful for the current variety of food choices now available, as it hasn't always been that way. During her freshman year, Brakman says she remembers the dining hall choices not being as available to people who might follow different dietary choices or restrictions.
“I feel like they serve a large variety of different cuisines now than they did when I was a freshman there,” Brakman said. “When I was a freshman there, the vegetarian/vegan options seemed hidden away but now I feel that they serve those different options more publicly.”
Brakman said she can’t remember as many gluten free options as they currently offer, or the smoothie station being as readily available as it is now. She’s thankful that she and other students at ECU are now given the opportunity to explore healthier options and include foods that might not have been as known during her early years when eating across campus. Brakman said she is a proud Pirate student and enjoys dining on campus now more than ever, as she gets to enjoy good food that has options available for everyone with her fellow Pirates all across campus.
The Chancellor Search
A new student center was not the only change seniors have experienced throughout their time at ECU.
Throughout their collegiate career at ECU, there have been three different chancellors current seniors have been led by since 2016 — Cecil Staton, Dan Gerlach and currently, Ron Mitchelson. Each chancellor has brought something different to ECU, while also creating some inconsistency between the students and the higher administrators.
No matter the university, chancellors serve as the uniting force of a campus, in both trying and celebratory times. With each chancellor comes a new way of leadership, presenting each senior at ECU with the chance to make up their minds of whose style they prefer and will keep in their memories when it comes time to recall their campus experience.
Something all students look forward to each semester are the concerts presented by ECU’s Student Activities Board and many seniors have an appreciation for the acts they’ve gotten to see throughout their years. There has definitely been a variety of acts, from Daya and Jesse McCartney to T-Pain and Jojo, there has definitely been a performer to suit every student's liking.
From Rae Sremmurd tossing pineapples into the audience at Minges Coliseum to B.o.B performing his throwback hits on the street stage of Uptown Greenville, students have definitely been given an upgrade in venues as the years went on, presenting each senior with an different experience and memory they’re likely to carry with them long after graduation.
From Blackboard to Canvas
Something new seniors might have had to adjust to would be the changing in ECU’s learning management platforms, shifting some classes from Blackboard to Canvas for its university-wide transitional period. Senior communications major, Ashley Lewis said she has not been heavily affected by Canvas, as only two of her classes had chosen to make the shift this year.
Due to her upcoming graduation date, Lewis said the shift didn’t “affect her as much” and that it wasn't creating that large of a change for her. Lewis said she has been going back and forth on each platform, though not all of her classes have hopped on board. The adjustment to a new platform, according to Lewis, has been difficult as far as having to maintain both but also exciting as she does believe it offers new opportunities and if she were a freshman or even a sophomore she might be more accepting of the change.