A full house of students, faculty, and staff met for Bennett College’s first town hall meeting of the semester. The meeting took place during the regularly scheduled Academic and Cultural Enrichment Series on January 18.
Bennett College President Dr. Julianne Malveaux first addressed concerns about her frequent traveling. She said some students have complained about her numerous absences from college events. Malveaux explained that she travels about 70 percent of the time to fundraise and market the college.
“I want that when people think about women, they think about Bennett,” she said.
Although her schedule cannot promise a set office hour, she revealed her conscious efforts to always eat in the café and even stop by dorms. She is currently taking suggestions about having open office hours to accommodate students.
Next, Malveaux revealed that cyber bullying has become a problem on campus.
“If you’re bad enough to bully, you’re bad enough to sign your name,” Malveaux said in response to anonymous threats via text, email, and social networking websites. She then reminded the college that sisterhood is a priority.
Dr. Stanely Viltiz, provost of student affairs, announced position changes in the Student Government Association. She said that due to the college’s academic policy all student leaders are required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average. Because of this policy, Shanee’ Williams will now serve as president and Amber Coleman as vice president.
Next, Dr. Esther Terry, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, addressed the feasibility of keeping the Holgate Library open 24 hours. Students asked for the library hours to be extended. The school opened the doors around the clock during the Fall 2010 finals period at the request of students. Dr. Terry says no more than 65 students used the library daily during the extended hours. The provost says it was not economically feasible to keep the doors open. The college says it has not made a final decision, so the issue is still up for debate.
Another concern is if and when campus “Gym Jams” will return. The college banned “Gym Jams” in 2009 after violence erupted at a party resulting in police being called to the campus.
“You have to figure out how to contain your friends,” says Malveaux. “We have to protect the campus and it’s reputation.”
“As a senior, ‘Gym Jams’ are not a big concern of mine but I can understand, for social reasons, why many underclassmen feel deprived,’ says Ashley Barham. Barham is a senior biology major from Newark, NJ.
With the opening of the Honor’s Dormitory in 2010, other residents have questioned the college’s efforts to update the older dormitories.
President Malveaux addressed this concern by first saying that Bennett is a historic campus with 19 buildings on the registrar of historic buildings in the state of North Carolina.
“Fixing old building is not as easy as building new ones.”
The Honor’s dorm and new Global Studies buildings were built with funds by a grant with a proposal that Bennett had to build new buildings.
While the college is searching for resources to fix old dorms, keeping rooms and bathrooms clean and reporting problems as soon as they occur are ways every student can help with upkeep according to Malveaux.
President Malveaux was also asked to write a blog to increase communication. She agreed to the idea only if she had help from a student.
Other student concerns included extending curriculum in the business department to cover economics, extending café hours, student accessibility to the kitchen of the Honor’s Hall, and comprehensive fees for off campus students. Latonya Flamer, vice president for Business & Finance, explained that these fees cover, but are not limited to, health services, student publications, identification cards, and computers and printers.
“These programs are available to all students,” says Flamer,” and you are using them even if you do not know you are.”
Another question addressed to Flamer: Why aren’t there more positions open for work-study? She explained that the college does not have enough federal funds to employ every student.
The panel addressing concerns included: President Julianne Malveaux, Ph.D; Dr. Esther Terry, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs; Dr. Stanley Viltz, associate provost of Student Affairs; Dr. James Dixon, chief of staff; Dr. Millicent Rainey, senior associate provost of Academic Affairs; Latonya Flamer, vice president for Business & Finance; Anthony Neal, vice president of Institutional Advancement; and Andrena Coleman, vice president of Administrative Services.
Students were required to write their questions on an index card. Malveaux suggested this method to teach students to affectively communicate through writing.
“I think this was a very productive meeting,” says Shanee Williams, president of the Student Government Association. Williams was announced as the new study body president during the meeting. “Many concerns of the students were addressed and answered.”
If there are any additional concerns students are advised to direct dialogue to SGA leaders. President Malveaux plans on holding another town hall meeting later this year.
By: Myeisha Essex