Students’ voices heard at town hall meeting

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Nothing is perfect. Nothing. And as many already know, Hampton University isn’t perfect.

There are a plethora of things Hampton students wish to change. It’s natural to have a list of things that you are not happy with. What is wonderful, however, is the chance to voice such concerns, with the assurance that such concerns will be addressed by student representatives.

Thursday, Jan. 31, marked the annual town hall meeting, an open forum run by students and organized by the Student Government Association (SGA). This open forum invites students to present their concerns to other students as well as the members of the SGA. This format also allows each student’s peers and representatives to be briefed on the issues addressed. The night’s proceedings led to the identification of a number of issues on campus, which, in turn, allows student representatives the chance to go forward with these issues and bring them to the administration’s attention.

The SGA has gone to bat for students many times. John Mitchell, the junior class president, explained the Student Government Association with these words: “The way that SGA and class presidents work is that we are here to voice the student body’s opinions. SGA is the microphone, and the people are the speaker. Our job is to tell administration what the student body has to say, in order to correct the issues being brought to our attention.”

One of the first topics addressed was the living conditions within the dorms. It was reported that numerous dorms had mold on the walls, ceilings and personal items. Students also reported bugs’ presence in various dorms, cockroaches being a major concern. The absence of hot water in certain dorms was noted as well. The SGA already has a committee in place to deal with housing and facility issues, and documented these issues to discuss with the members of the school’s administration.

Another concern addressed was with respect to the SGA itself. Students voiced a desire for greater access to SGA records so students will know what is being accomplished and what decisions are being made in response to their questions and requests. Here, the members of the SGA were able to note that they were in the process of building a website where updates and decisions made on matters will be recorded.

Students also mentioned the unknown status of Hampton’s public transportation service. The shuttle in question, named the #PirateExpress, was a relatively new addition to Hampton University, added in April 2017. Unfortunately, the shuttle service has been suspended indefinitely as of this past semester due to the fact that the company under contract to run the shuttle service ended its relationship with the city of Hampton and, in doing so, ended its contract with Hampton University. The city of Hampton is currently looking for a replacement shuttle service for the university, but when a shuttle service will become available once again has yet to be determined.

The list of transgressions voiced at the meeting went on and on. Topics ranged from the fact that some students believed there are not enough professors available to teach integral classes; other students are not satisfied with the cafe’s quality of food. But certain questions remain: Will any of this change? Will students see a shift toward the positive?

Jacob Robinson, a first-year five-year MBA major from Atlanta, gave his insights into the situation: “Was the meeting effective in voicing the concerns of the people? Yes. But as far as to whether these concerns will actually be fixed? I still believe it is up in the air. Ultimately, it helps to make the rest of the student body aware of the concerns of other students, and the SGA does their best to answer any questions they can, but it is still not a guarantee.”

Only time will tell what improvements can be made. But this event served the purpose of bringing students together to work toward change.

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