Competition explains importance of planning ahead

Jasmine Fleming

by Managing Editor Jasmine Fleming

I participated Feb. 19 in the on-site editorial writing competition at the Southeast Journalism Conference for the second time. Although I did not win, I learned more about an issue I sometimes face: Not planning my goals well.

In the competition, students from various southern universities had to study information on a given topic and present an opinion on it. This year’s topic was Austin Peay State University’s recent purchase of land near the university with which to possibly build new structures such as nonacademic buildings or shopping centers. The question for us student journalists was whether or not the university should have made the purchase and if the expansion is appropriate.

After reading through the provided links, I was shocked. The university president held a press conference Feb. 16 to discuss the purchase and the university’s plans, according to a Feb. 16 article in The All State, APSU’s student newspaper. The only issue was, there was not an actual plan.

APSU President Alisa White provided images showing how the university wanted to expand, according to the article. However, she said they were just ideas and that the actual expansion probably would not resemble the designs.

Although beginning to plan for the university’s growth is important, I felt planning should have happened before the purchase, as the land cost the university $8.8 million, according to the article.

Another major issue resulting from the plan is that the designs for the expansion went farther than the land the university purchased. Instead, it encroached upon local businesses, according to a Feb. 11 article in The Leaf-Chronicle, a Clarksville, Tennessee, newspaper.

Ironically, one of the major reasons for the expansion, according to The Leaf-Chronicle, was for the university to have more interaction with the community if they choose to place shopping locations on the newly-purchased land. But, taking over other businesses’ spaces does not seem like the best way to grow closer to the community.

Had APSU taken a similar approach to UNA’s search for the Human Environmental Science Department’s new home (see page 2), I could have supported their expansion plans. UNA is finally finding a central location for the department after months of searching, and although the project is costly, the process was thoughtful, included many locations and resulted from thorough planning.

After submitting my editorial diagreeing with the expansion, I realized I could take the same planning advice myself. As managing editor for The Flor-Ala, part of my responsibilities is getting us involved on campus to show students we work to keep them informed. I have had many ideas for doing so this year, but sometimes those ideas did not come to fruition.

In the same way, as a student, I often think of my academic goals and what I want to accomplish with my education, such as completing my Capstone Project for the Honors program.

But without the proper planning of figuring out all the steps I need to get to the finish line, I will not reach my goals. Seeing this real-life, expensive example helped me realize how much more I can do if I plan my goals better.

I also believe I am not the only UNA student who could benefit from heeding this advice. I encourage anyone else with big dreams and goals to consider how they will reach them. By doing so, it will not discourage you. Instead, it will give you a way to make your goals a reality.