“Our new student center represents change, prosperity, pride and commitment for higher education at Georgia Highlands College — not only for the students at Georgia Highlands College, but for the citizens of Bartow County and the state of Georgia as a whole,” Isaac Waters, president of student group Brother2Brother, said to the crowd.
The two-story facility features a game room, grab-and-go café, two-story open-air student lounge with fireplace, two regulation-sized basketball/volleyball courts with an elevated running track and weight and cardio rooms. It also houses the student book store, four offices and a 150-person meeting room and a project room for student organizations.
While the center is being funded by a $100 fee per semester, voted on and approved by students, the college and its foundation worked with the Cartersville-Bartow Joint Development Authority to issue the bonds for the endeavor. Fees will be used to pay for the bonds over a 30-year term
“Isn’t it a great thing that our community has come together — you wouldn’t have said that five, 10 years ago,” Cartersville-Bartow Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr. said. “Everybody is working together because we need to, but our focus is to help students.”
Lauren Brock, a teaching major, said while she is excited about the center’s upstairs amenities, such as the walking track, she also appreciates having a place to eat while on campus.
“I don’t like driving off campus because you have to give up your good parking space, especially when you get here as early as I do,” Brock said.
Student Megan Nalli said she’s interested in some of the aesthetic qualities of the center.
“The thing I’ve looked forward to most have been the glass walls,” Nalli said. “A lot of the natural light helps when you’re studying and I’m a psych major so it’s interesting to see how [students] will interact with the sunlight.”
Avery Heath, who is majoring in mathematics, said he believes the center provides a better student experience while on campus.
“Last year, you just came to [GHC] then you just left,” Heath said. “Now you can hang out with your friends and have a good time, rather than just coming to school and sitting in the hallway talking, then leaving ... Now we have all this stuff to do and it’s so much better.”
The Cartersville campus currently serves about 2,200 students, housing the largest population of any GHC campus. Students have been able to use the facility since its completion earlier this summer.