‘This really works’

Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue was chomping on some French fries and a corn dog as he chatted with students.

Celebrating Presidents Day with an interactive lunch in McCall Dining Hall, Pogue, members of the administration, faculty and staff enjoyed lunch eating what students eat as they asked GSU students to open up about what concerns and ideas they have.

“This really works,” said Pogue during a break between bites. “We put a lot of these suggestions into action.”

This was the second year the president hosted a dine and eat feedback session with the Student Government Association president, and he noted that last year’s event was so successful that it was decided to do it again. As students entered the cafeteria they were handed yellow student feedback forms. Members of the administration went table-by-table, sitting with students to record whatever they had to say.  Designated categories ranged from university athletics, the application and registration process to campus safety and security.

“I think this is the first step, hearing our concerns,” said Brittany Williams, 21, a junior criminal justice major from Houston.

 Pogue knows some students feel a disconnect between the administration and students and he said that is why this is another in a series of things being done to improve communication. With the help of the SGA, he has held town hall meetings regularly to get direct feedback from the student body. 

“I don’t know another university in the area, that uses this type of event to get firsthand information from the students,” said Pogue. “Here the overall agenda is receiving students’ perspective on the services offered at GSU.”

Some students agree the luncheon is a positive move for the university.

“This proves that the university cares about the issues of student body,” said Jonathan Wallace, 18, a freshman sports management major from Rayville. “It’s not every day the administration can come and join us. They don’t usually get to see the day-to-day issues we face.”

Students had a variety of opinions, and one said school spirit and campus security are at the top of her list of things that need to be improved. “As a GSU cheerleader, I love to see energized students,” said Naje Watkins, 20, a junior Rockwall, Texas, native. 

“I also think we should have better protection with the (campus) police.”

Willie Bell, a GSU police department consultant who attended the lunch, said the department knows students are concerned and the department continues to make progress. He said the university is in the process of hiring three more police officers and the department plans to set up a suggestion box.

“The students are the eyes and ears of this university,” said Bell. “They hear and see more than the police department.”

Pogue said all of the data collected at the lunch will be evaluated and used in the summer planning sessions.

 “These suggestions become an important part of the planning of our university,” said Pogue. “It seems the general concern among everyone is enhanced communication.”