Student Government roundtable addresses campus issues

The Student Government Roundtable for fall 2019 took place at 5 p.m. in the LBJ Ballroom on Sept. 30.

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Jaden Edison

Texas State University President Dr. Denise Trauth speaks with student Ethan Pena Sept. 30 at the Student Government Roundtable in the LBJ Ballroom.

Sierra Martin, News Reporter

Tables filled the LBJ Ballroom with the largest student body turn out in the past three years; administrators provided answers to student’s questions about campus climate, diversity and mental health among other topics.

University Administrators including President Denise Trauth, Provost Eugene Bourgeois and Vice President for Student Affairs Joanne Smith were among the many faculty members in attendance. During the one-hour roundtable students were able to ask questions and voice their concerns to administrative staff.

Texas State President Denise Trauth said that she is concerned about diversifying the presidential cabinet, but has not yet disclosed her plan to do so. Regardless of her concern, Trauth doesn’t want to promise a position on the presidential cabinet to the new chief diversity officer once the position opens after the unexpected resignation of current Chief Diversity Officer Ameerah McBride.

Eugene Bourgeois, provost and vice president of student affairs, discussed the administration’s attempts to increase diversity by hiring diverse staff, a hiring tool kit and an action plan to build diversity on campus. Although they claim to have a diversity action plan in place, Bourgeois said that there is no easy way to access these initiatives due to the fact that they are integrated into the plans of each individual college at the university.

Chief Diversity Officer, Equity and Inclusion Director and Title IX Coordinator Ameerah McBride, addressed student’s concerns with administration not being proactive in preventing white supremacists from being on campus.

“It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how many diverse people you hire, how many programs you offer; you cannot stop people from being racist and hateful,” McBride said. “Especially on our campus, because we are a state university and we are a public campus, so we can’t close off our campus to anyone.”

McBride encourages students to organize peaceful counter protests to be involved in the solution, as well as voting in both local and national elections. In order to promote campus diversity and encourage positive change in the university, the Office of Equity and Inclusion funds diversity initiatives and gives away $70,000 annually for diversity events.

Emilio Carranco, student health center director, discussed that the biggest issue his department is currently facing is trying to meet the demands of student’s growing mental health needs. This September the Student Counseling Center began to see an unprecedented trend of not being able to see students the same day they call to make an appointment. Due to this development, the Student Health Center is hiring a new director for the counseling center and will begin advocating for more mental health resources.

Due to analyzing recent student survey data, Carranco believes that the mental health of students is one of the biggest needs on campus and that Texas State’s students struggle with mental health comparatively more than other universities.

According to Carranco, mental health may be an issue at Texas State due to the number of students who are first-generation college students and needing financial assistance through school, as well as the counseling department staff not growing to reflect the yearly increase in students.

The Student Health Center has a low stock of the flu vaccine this year, causing them to push off their flu vaccine drives until they receive more from the manufacturer. Although the vaccine will be less attainable to students in the beginning of flu season, Carranco doesn’t think it will lead to a flu outbreak on campus due to the fact that the virus doesn’t start circulating until December through April.

Kama Davis, one of the two current attorney for students, discussed how there is more students needing their assistance than they have time for, causing them to have to book appointments with students five months out.

“We are actually victims of our own success because we have so many students that know about us, but not enough attorneys to go around,” Davis said.

According to Davis, their services are most frequently required for viewing leases, helping students with criminal charges and civil litigation. Based on her work with students, Davis said that the biggest legal problem students face is signing predatory leases. The Attorney for Students Office is currently in the process of hiring a third attorney to their staff.

The Vice President of Student Affairs, Joanne Smith, expressed her department’s concern of their services moving towards digital interaction with students.

“Machines can’t replace the human component,” Smith said.

Smith thinks that social media is causing more stress, anxiety and loneliness among the current generation of students due to the lack of face-to-face interaction with others and the perfect image that is translated over media. Students at the roundtable discussed how they often feel overloaded with information and their attempt to process it causes emotional strain.

According to Smith, employers are always looking for students with people skills to hire after graduation and they hope that the events are resources provided by Student Affairs leaves a lasting impression on graduates.

According to Jack Rahmann, LBJ Student Center director, the south entrance of the building will be reopening in the spring semester, making it much easier for students to navigate in and out of the building. Additional newly remodeled spaces will open up for student use in the spring semester including the new ballroom.

One of the upcoming projects that hasn’t been started yet is a complete renovation of the second-floor dining hall, which will be completely redesigned to incorporate a “Whole Foods concept” available to students by the end of spring 2020.

Student Government roundtables are held once a semester in the LBJ Student Center ballroom and are open to the public. Information on future Student Government roundtable dates and guest lists can be found on their website.


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