As most students walked into Grambling State University’s McCall Dining Hall for lunch Monday they were in for a surprise. To eliminate any middlemen or miscommunication, the university’s executive leadership team was sitting at tables to hear directly from students.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in all of my years, where administration, students and faculty sat together at lunch and directly discussed issues concerning the university,” said Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue, who sat with first lady Dorothy Pogue, student organization leaders and other students in the center of the cafeteria.
As students ate lunch, vice presidents, deans, department heads and some faculty and staff asked students about the good and bad at the university and what the institution can do to improve their tenure.
Student comments were recorded on feedback forms. The students had lots to say about various issues, including the university dress code, financial aid, the condition and hours of the library, campus security, admissions and registration.
“Students concerns will be more of a reality to (the) administration now that they’ve heard it firsthand instead of secondhand through other mediums, (including) the Student Government Association,” said SGA President Jonathan Allen, a senior business major.
“One of the problems with the university is that they implement little things that won’t make a big change, but they bypass the bigger issues that’ll make a greater difference,” said Justin Owens, 21, a psychology major from Los Angeles.
It was apparent that other students were feeling the same as they gave short responses when it came to answering problems pertaining dress code; however, expressive conversations were sparked as they were asked about administration and financial aid issues.
“The students were very honest and forthright in speaking about issues that impact them, and we can only respect that because we want to make things better,” said Willie Daniel, head of the kinesiology department.
“The event was great and a positive one,” added Terry Powman, a senior elementary education major from Houston.
“I really hope that the administration really gets what we want, how we feel and that we’re serious about these issues.”
As Leon Sanders, vice president of finance and administration, who oversees buildings and facilities as well as finance, sat with students, Jimmy Blair a senior psychology major mentioned the problems that plague the Psychology Department.
“With the turnover of teachers, we only have two psychology professors, one sociology professor and no head of the department,” stated Blair.
“I really hoped for honest feedback about things that we can address so that we can develop an action plan that’ll address current and future concerns pertaining students,” said Sanders.
After an hour or so of feedback, Pogue thanked everyone and asked all involved to enjoy some red, white and blue Presidents Day cake and cupcakes.
Pogue and his executive leadership team quickly followed the first-time feedback lunch by discussing it at the president’s regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting. Dr. Pogue said the university used the Monday activity as another way to collect data and information as a part of a continuing effort to do what’s best for students.
He said the feedback will be a part of the university’s spring planning, its April convocation and as an important part of the annual summer retreat. Pogue said he was pleased with the event.
“The only thing I regret is not doing this sooner,” he said.