Students voice concerns at SGA town hall

President of the SGA Baileigh Picou convened a town hall meeting on Sept. 15 to hear students’ perspectives on campus life.

The meetings, hosted by SGA and the Office of Multicultural and International Student Affairs, are open to all students as a safe space to voice their opinions and feelings to university officials.

On the agenda for this meeting were topics such as campus involvement, safety, diversity and inclusion.

The University Police Department’s Chief Michael Beckner shared that LionTraxx has hired a full-time driver and had three buses fixed in response to issues with the bus route. Beckner also spoke about the police department’s mental health policy, especially for responding to not-violent crises. 

“Our officers are trained in de-escalation. We understand that people go through stress; our officers know how to talk to folk and try to get them the help they need and get them to understand that everyone has a mental crisis every once in a while, and it’s okay to do that, to have to need someone to talk to,” he said.

Beckner assured resources are available to students in the event of a mental health emergency. 

“Our counselors are on call 24 hours a day, so the police go there and get you back to the police department and get an on-call counselor to come in and speak with you. We’re here to assist and show you that we’re there for you and your needs,” Beckner added. 

SGA Chief Justice Michaela Torres discussed her feelings regarding a lack of education on issues such as sexuality and race, saying, “I think I just came from a house and a high school where I was very educated on those topics, but I just didn’t realize how uneducated people truly are about that. It’s genuine ignorance; they just don’t know that some things they face are problems or even when it comes down to race, there are some things that people that as a white woman or as a white man we are just oblivious to because it doesn’t affect us on a daily basis.”

MISA Coordinator Larshell Rhodes spoke on plans to educate on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. 

”MISA is going to be partnering with Lavender Lions mostly on their major holiday events and commemorations. We’re going to celebrate Trans Day of Remembrance with them in November. Then in October, we’re going to do a coming out awareness week, and so that would be a really great opportunity for people to come in for safe space training,” said Rhodes.

Torres proposed a positive presence to address the protest group that comes to campus. “I think when we know they’re going to be on campus – because they have to put in an ROA – we should have resources out there for people such as the counseling center and police presence, just to let people know that they’re loved and not hated because that’s what these people that come on campus put out, and I think that the images that they show can have a very negative effect on a lot of people on our campus. So, if we want to create a safe space then we should be offering resources even though we can’t tell them that they can’t put up images and things like that.”

Chief Beckner explained the Police Department’s position in dealing with protestors.

“Understand that if we put police out there, it’s going to create more of a distraction, and then they’ll push the limits even more because they know the limits. My advice to people, and it’s very hard, and I understand, but if they have nobody to preach to – they go away.

The next town hall meeting intends to discuss auxiliary services, athletics and university parking.