Opinion: Congratulations President Lemelle: Here’s What He Need to Know

Courtesy photo

By Keith Jackson

Grambling State University, a beacon of historical significance and academic excellence, welcomes a new era under the leadership of Dr. Martin Lemelle, Jr.

With his appointment as GSU’s 11th president, students anticipate a fresh perspective and a proactive approach to addressing longstanding concerns within the university community.

Dr. Lemelle’s journey to the presidency is marked by a rich tapestry of experiences, including his tenure as a student leader and his distinguished roles in higher education administration. His return to Grambling, coupled with a commitment to student advocacy and collaboration, signals a promising future for the institution.

As Grambling embarks on this transformative journey, it is imperative to prioritize the voices and needs of its diverse student body. Here are some recommendations based on the opinions of students and Grambling State faculty.

Quality of Campus Living/Residence Life:

Raising the bar for on-campus housing and facilities in order to promote a lively and encouraging community is beneficial to both academic achievement and personal development. When students arrive at Grambling, whether they are driving up the highway or are from a completely foreign nation, it is important that they feel like they are home for the next

four years. Students talk about how urgently the policies and procedures around on-campus housing need to be improved. Students are demanding improvements to campus living, from response and support from maintenance to feeling secure and comfortable.

Improving Dining Facilities:

Enhancing the quality and variety of food option

s in the cafeteria to accommodate diverse dietary preferences and ensure students have access to nutritious meals. Considering the substantial amount of money students are paying to eat at the dining hall, it is a collective thought that students deserve better quality and diverse food options.

Expanding Mental Health Resources:

Recognizing the value of overall wellness and supporting mental health services and support systems to promote resilience and mental wellness in students. We must put in a lot of effort and reevaluate how we can assist students mentally here on campus. Students have expressed dissatisfaction with the current resources on campus, saying they could be far better and that they provide little to no assistance.

Investing in Student Organizations:

Extending institutional recognition and support to include a wider range of student organizations than only the marching band and athletics, in order to promote inclusion and community involvement. It is essential that student organizations other than band and athletics receive an even greater emphasis. Given that these organizations are also having a greater impact and changing things both on and off campus, we ought to provide them with greater resources, primarily financial ones.

Enhancing/Investing in Campus Beautification:

Putting an emphasis on infrastructure upgrades and campus aesthetics to create a welcoming and beautiful space that inspires pride and gives students a feeling of ownership. Under Dr. Lemelle’s direction, Grambling’s proud and traditional spirit has to be rekindled. Putting money into campus landscaping and spirit-building programs is not merely a nice-to-have; these are strong statements of our community’s identity.

Supporting Student Financial Well-being:

In order to give students more financial empowerment, programs to reduce financial pressures, improve job placement services, and offer internship and experiential learning opportunities should be put into action/reassessed. In order to effectively support students who are having financial difficulties paying for their education, more need-based financial aid should be provided.

Accountability in Academic Advising: Putting in place procedures that hold advisors and instructors responsible for offering students the tools they need to succeed academically and for offering excellent counsel and support. We shouldn’t have to feel like we are carrying out our advisor’s duties as students. Too many times on campus, the same narrative recounts how students lost out on chances to succeed or advance academically throughout their time in college. Furthermore, it is well acknowledged that we require more effective mechanisms to hold academics responsible for their actions. Anything from blatantly piling on needless schoolwork to failing to provide adjustments for students with disabilities must be looked into and addressed.

Balancing Campus Safety and Community Engagement:

Reevaluating enforcement tactics and creating a climate in which students feel respected, comfortable, and empowered to participate in campus life helps to strike a balance between student freedom and campus security. There is a deeper desire for independence and self-determination outside of the walls of academics. The core of college life is stifled by the extensive presence of campus police and the limitations placed on student gatherings/events. It is imperative that Dr. Lemelle advocates for an environment of trust and inclusivity, enabling students to freely explore and express themselves without any fear or constraints. In other words, we want to feel like students. As students of color who live in this country already, we primarily deal with the ignorant and blatant attacks on people who look like us. We shouldn’t feel like this, attending a HBCU.

Investing in the Surrounding Community: Collaborating with local stakeholders to bring life to the community and offering students recreational and off-campus resources that enhance their college experience and support neighborhood growth. It shouldn’t be necessary for students to travel for 30 minutes to an hour to explore, have fun, or get a bite to eat. In order to better assist and serve students and the community, it is crucial that our institution works closely with the city of Grambling and makes significant investments here, not to mention how big the positive impact will be economically.

Enhancing Student Support Services:

Expanding resources for academic tutoring, career counseling, and mentorship programs to provide comprehensive support for students throughout their academic journey. By addressing these critical areas of concern, President Lemelle has the opportunity to usher

in a new era of prosperity and student-centered excellence at Grambling State University. Through collaboration, transparency, and a steadfast commitment to student success, together, we can create a brighter future for generations of Tigers to come.