Elected officials answer student questions

The future of Southeastern was discussed on Monday, March 14, during a legislative forum, sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA). Louisiana state senators and representatives gathered in the Student Union Theater from 3:30-5 p.m. to discuss the impending budget issues surrounding the university. Students were able to submit questions ahead of time for the legislators to answer. The forum itself is the third and final part of the SUPER network.

The SUPER network was created by SGA to help inform students about the impending budget cuts. SUPER network Coordinator, Leah Heitmeier, a senior majoring in general studies, opened the event by introducing the legislators. University President Dr. John L. Crain also spoke briefly before the legislators began answering questions. Freshman class senator Branden Summers led the question portion of the forum.

The discussion included topics including budget cuts to higher education, program and course cuts, the state budget proposed by Governor Bobby Jindal and the future of financial aid. Among the panel were several Southeastern alumni such as Senator A.G. Crowe and State Rep. John Schroder and J. Rogers Pope.

The legislators will convene on Monday, April 25 in the state capitol in Baton Rouge to begin discussing and voting on the current issues.

“This is going to hit them right before they go into session to talk about the budget,” said SGA President David Cavell.

The future of higher education in Louisiana will be brought into question, among other topics.

Senator Jack Donahue gave his insight on why higher education is being cut.

“$1.6 billon is what we have to cut out of essentially $2.6 billion,” said Donahue. “Out of $2.6 billion we fund higher education and health care, that’s why it gets cut every year.”

Each member of the panel also discussed their own views on the state of education in Louisiana.

“This is really about a poor performing system, more so in my opinion, than what’s affordable and what’s not,” said Schroder.

Crowe had to leave the forum early due to a prior engagement, but made it clear that he is very willing to answer any questions that students may have about the future of the university. He even went so far as to give out his cell phone number, which is 985-788-9772.

“I think [the forum] can have an impact on the university as a whole, but as some of the representatives were saying, there weren’t enough students here to hear this,” said Mary Gervais, a senior majoring in communication. “So I think for us that were here, we need to go spread this message that they’re willing to work for us, willing to help us if we also put forth the effort. It needs to be a balanced system.”