Administration aims to move forward following HU town hall meeting

by: Ya-Marie Sesay, Leenika Belfield-Martin and Ayanna Maxwell

Hampton University Student Government Association President Martha Baye on Feb. 22 issued a letter detailing proposed resolutions to student complaints voiced at a town hall meeting earlier in the week.

“We appreciate students for coming forward to voice their concerns,” Baye stated in a letter posted on hamptonu.edu detailing how the matters were addressed by the administration.

HU President Dr. William R. Harvey called a meeting that day for administrators and campus leaders to discuss the issues.

Title IX Coordinator Attorney Kelly Harvey-Viney assured the administration and campus leaders that the University’s Office of Title IX adheres to federal guidelines in each report of sexual assault.

“The administration appreciates the bravery of the students who come forward to address the important issue of sexual assault,” Bayes’ letter stated.

In reference to social issues, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Barbara Inman and Baye agreed to meet to reconsider the banishment of 12-2. Students must adhere to the Hampton University Code of Conduct and Dress Code in order to ensure the revival of this event.

As the food service was another prominent issue discussed as town hall, Harvey said he would implement multiple solutions. The first is the establishment of a Food Services Working Group consisting of approximately 10 students who will work closely with Gourmet Services. This group will serve as a mediator between the student body and the cafeteria staff, and will be able to offer suggestions for all cafeteria issues.

Harvey also urged students to directly and immediately contact Gourmet Services Regional Manager Kerwin Cromartie to report any complaints.

Also, Harvey will allow the Wellness Station to be open seven days per week instead of five, serving vegan-friendly, gluten-free and pescatarian meals.

In regards to the condition of facilities, Hampton University will hire a reputable company to investigate the mold in dormitory and common area. This independent company will be selected by March 1, 2018, and steps to remove the mold will follow shortly after.

Students are also now encouraged to submit maintenance suggestions for academic buildings to SGA Vice President Jared Bourke, who will then submit the recommendations to Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer Doretha Spells. She will guide all renovations.

The proposed solutions were in response to several grievances discussed at the town hall meeting Feb 20.

Approximately 700 Hampton University students packed the student center ballroom hoping for answers from the university administration concerning a wide range of topics during HU’s annual town hall meeting.

Tension filled the room as students pressed administrators with questions about the reporting of sexual assault, reports of mold found in dorms, the status of suspended social activities, cafeteria food issues and parking issues.

Baye moderated the meeting, which was attended by Harvey, Inman, Spells, Police Chief David Glover, and Chancellor and Provost Dr. JoAnn W. Haysbert.

A young woman shared her claim that she was a victim of sexual assault on campus. She said that at the time of her alleged assault, she did not feel comfortable reporting the incident since the Title IX coordinator first would have to approve an investigation.

According to the university website, “The Title IX Coordinator will decide whether an investigation or referral is required after evaluating the risk of the alleged offender harming other members of the campus community and the likelihood of the university being able to proceed without the active participation of the reporting party (if applicable).”

At the town hall meeting, Harvey responded to the young woman.

“Two things I want to make clear,” he said. “One: I do not stand by it [sexual assault]. And two: You don’t have to get permission [to speak up], but you do have to come forward.”

He also encouraged students to speak with him directly if they ever think their sexual assault case is not being investigated.

The increase of security at Hampton Harbor Apartments was also another topic of concern to students. Many who frequent the apartments yet live on campus have found it increasingly difficult to travel between the school and the apartments.

The administration pointed out that safety trumps convenience and referenced the recent shootings in the apartments as the reasoning for the higher police presence.

“The number of incidents have reduced dramatically at this location since this procedure was put in place,” Glover said.

Other complaints included living conditions, specifically mold reported in dormitories following flooding. Two students detailed their reports of mold in McGrew Towers and James Hall. Spells ensured students that a $20 million renovation plan was underway and encouraged them to report every possible instance of mold in their dorms to their dorm director.

 

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