N.C. A&T’s Blue and Gold Table Talk invites students and faculty leaders to discuss issues

N.C.+A%26T%E2%80%99s+Blue+and+Gold+Table+Talk+invites+students+and+faculty+leaders+to+discuss+issues

Gabrielle Heyward, Contributor

To combat the problems that students face on campus, the Student Government Association’s People Administration hosted the Blue and Gold Table Talk. This event gathered faculty leaders and students to Deese Ballroom for an open discussion and to answer questions on numerous topics.

Chancellor Harold Martin Sr. opened the conversation by praising students and healthcare workers on campus for keeping an incredibly low infection rate of COVID-19. He explained as a result of the low numbers, the university plans to fully open campus for in-person dining and visitation soon.

Chancellor Martin also detailed the new transformation of East Market Street with new academic buildings, student service support facilities, housing, and parking lots. This master plan has six key points which emphasize college restructuring, student housing, stem support, athletics/recreation, public space activities, connectivity to Greensboro, and IT infrastructure.

“Just seeing how the campus is planning to expand upon what it already is and really meet the needs of students in the future,” Benae Clardy, a junior chemistry student said.

Other administrators such as Dr. John Lowney the Housing and Residence Director, Jermaine Cherry, from the University Police Department, Marc Williams the Dean of Students, and Dr. Del Ruff, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair were also in attendance to discuss different aspects of campus life students wanted to discuss.

Instead of a typical town hall panel, students sat next to faculty leaders for an intimate roundtable discussion. Some students expressed their concerns about the growing population of students and the insufficient opportunities for housing and Dr. John Lowney put the questions to rest. 

“We house 40% of our students which is more than 98% of the universities in the United States. We have 14,000 students and roughly 6,800 spaces. We just acquired University Park [apartments] and we are looking to purchase University Loft [apartments],” Lowney said.“People want to stay with us. Which is different from perhaps other universities and I get that people like having one bill, soo that will continue to be a challenge for us.” 

Other thoughtful conversations ensued across the room. Each table talked for 10 minutes before rotating to the next table to ensure students could talk with various faculty leaders. At another table, Dr. Del Ruff detailed the new “Preferred Name Policy” and preferred pronouns, but clarified that it is not a legal name change. 

“Oneself is what SGA is moving to that, the university may not move as fast but we are looking at a Preferred name policy. This policy will allow you to use a name, of course not something vulgar, but if you have a nickname or something you prefer to be called, then you will be able to put in an application to submit that name and it will go through our system. It will be on blackboard, in a residence hall, the alert system in the first wave,” Dr. Del Ruff said. 

Students felt at ease following the talk with the administration about certain issues happening on campus. 

“I’m glad that we feel like our voices are being heard directly instead of feeling like we have to talk through people. The opportunity to speak to people directly made me feel a lot more heard than me just sending emails and getting responses because I can see people’s actual reactions,” said Janay Walker, a junior mathematics student.

After wonderful conversations with the administration, the program was followed by a small reception. 

“I love that our students were able to talk to different officers around campus, just to get feedback on what’s going on at our university and how our university operates. We want students to know the student government is here to advocate,” Jacquez Brown, executive secretary for the student government association, said. “It was a great turnout as well because most students don’t come to events like this because they feel their voices are being heard, but tonight I feel like our voices were heard and students got a lot of feedback from these different officers.”