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 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.



Hampton football welcomes new head coach, Robert Prunty

Ayanna Maxwell | Editor-in-Chief

Hampton University’s 21st head coach, Robert Prunty | Hampton University Office of University Relations 

Hampton University announced Robert Prunty as its new football coach Dec. 8 at a news conference in the Student Center Theater.

Senior Public Relations and Multimedia Marketing Specialist Matthew White greeted the audience with a friendly reminder of the 2017-2018 school year’s significance, being that it is President William R. Harvey’s 40th anniversary and the university’s 150th anniversary of existence.

Hampton Athletic Director Eugene Marshall Jr. then took to the mic. He recalled the intense selection process, saying that there were “about 87 candidates from around the country.” He continued, “Out of these 87 candidates, 10 were current NFL/CFL assistant coaches. Ten were former or current FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) head coaches. Another 10 were assistant or assistant head [coaches] from FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision). Over 50 percent [of the candidates] wanted this job because we’re moving to the Big South.”

According to Marshall, Prunty’s credentials make him more than qualified for the position. Prunty, a Chatham native, spent two years at Hampton University.

“He bleeds blue and white,” Marshall said.

Prunty was regarded as a top recruiter at Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He also spent time as an associate head coach, defensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Eastern Carolina.

“We [wanted] someone [who’s] going to coach, lead [and] mentor; and at the end of the day, Coach Prunty was at the top of that list,” Marshall said.

Being a former Hamptonian, Prunty was eager to return to his “Home by the Sea.”

“In 1983, God brought me to Hampton University,” Prunty said. “In 2017, God brought me back to Hampton University.”

The university’s 21st head coach looks forward to selflessly working with the team.

“This is not my football team,” he said. “This is the university’s football team. It’s the alumni’s football team. It’s the players’ football team. It’s the fans’ and the community’s.”

Prunty discussed his goals for the Pirates as well.

“I want the players here to know that I’m going to recruit you first,” he said. “I know [there are] some guys in this room [who are] waiting for a chance. It’s an open door now. Everybody gets a shot.”

He spoke on his plans for local recruitment. According to Prunty, every coach on the Pirates’ staff will be responsible for recruiting from a certain amount of schools in the 757 area code. He believes that Hampton has more to offer athletes in the area who are overlooked.

In regards to the upcoming season, Prunty exuded ambition.

“We will be fundamental and disciplined,” he said. “We’re going to be aggressive. I’m excited for these young men to go to the Big South because we want to go in there winning. I didn’t come [to Hampton] to lose.”