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Optimize LU uses entrepreneurial ethics to inspire solutions to Lawrentian problems

By Ariela Rosa

On Friday Feb. 12, six students presented on various campus issues at Optimize LU, proposing solutions to a five-person panel which provided feedback and suggestions for implementation.

Optimize LU was organized by juniors Chelsey Choy and Zach Martin with the guidance of Economic Professor and Coordinator of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program Gary Vaughan.

In his presentation, junior Zach Ben-Amots suggested holding town hall meetings once a term for students and administration to discuss campus issues as well as adding more Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps around campus.

After filling out professor evaluations last term, freshman Emma Arnesen had ideas for improving the evaluation system. Junior Matt Geleske presented ideas to standardize shuttle service between the main campus and Alexander Gym, and junior Shang Li suggested creating a separate, non-alcoholic VR for students too young to drink.

Arnesen, Geleske and Li all said they were happy about participating in Optimize LU because it gave them the chance to practice their presentation skills and receive valuable feedback from members of the Lawrence community.

The organizers also presented their own ideas, with Martin proposing collaboration with the art department to create functional art to organize students’ bags and coats at Andrew Commons, and Choy suggesting the implementation of chalkboards on campus where people could anonymously commit to goals.

Choy and Martin organized the event in less than two weeks, relying mainly on word of mouth to generate interest. “We put a lot of effort into speaking with our friends and encouraging them to come,” said Choy.

For the staff and faculty panel, Martin added that they “tried to get representation from each department on campus, be it athletic, admissions, [or] someone from the con.” However, Martin said that due to short notice and the reading period, “it didn’t pan out exactly the way we wanted.”

Despite the setback, Choy and Martin expressed their happiness with the turnout for Friday’s event.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell was impressed with the students’ presentations and stated, “I believe a number of the ideas are able to be implemented, and I look forward to seeing some of these student ideas become reality.”

Rose Wasielewski, the Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life, said she was eager to participate on the panel. “This event, along with Launch LU in the spring, is such a simple idea but can create amazing results,” she said.

Wasielewski added that events like Optimize LU are important because “no matter how many years of experience folks like I or the other panelists have, the students are the ones living it day to day, and they will often see issues first-hand that they should feel welcomed to bring forth.”

Organizers Choy and Martin said they hope to create an entrepreneurship club soon so that events like Optimize LU can remain permanent fixtures at Lawrence.