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Recap On the October Meeting with SGA and ELT

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Background: A student wearing an orange shirt raises their hand to speak in a meeting  Overlay text “ Feature: Recap On the October Meeting with SGA and ELT
Photo by Grayson Morris

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Meredith’s Student Government Association (SGA) held an open meeting open to students to debrief them on updates and events that happened on campus. The main focus of the meeting was the meeting between the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and Student Government Association. The main issue brought up by the Executive Leadership Team during the meeting was the De-Lux Brunch and changing the names of buildings.

De-Lux Brunch was an event held on Oct.5, that addressed the history behind the buildings at Meredith and the people they were named after. According to Aminah Jenkins, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Board Vice Chair, the questions that were asked at the ELT meeting were all pre-determined topics selected by SGA executive board members. The Meredith Herald interviewed SGA executive board members and President Jo Allen to find out more about what exactly happened during the meeting.

According to Jenkins, “[Hayden Howlett] explained [to Dr. Allen] that students were talking about the [De-lux Brunch] event and were upset that no one was changing the names of the buildings.” A lot of students at the SGA open meeting were upset because nothing is being done to change the building names.

Jenkins says that President Allen said that “conversations were always happening [on campus],” and Jenkins responded that “conversations were great, but students were interested in action and wanted to know why the same principles for renaming Lux weren’t being applied to other buildings.”

In an interview with The Herald, Jenkins shared that “Hayden [Howlett, SGA Student Body Vice President] then suggested that the SGA Executive Board speak with the Board of Trustees about it because they’re the ones with the power to change it.” According to other SGA members, Jo Allen immediately shut that idea down when Howlett suggested it at the meeting.

Jenkins shared that, during the meeting, “President Jo Allen interjected and said that [changing the building names] wasn’t possible because of accreditation laws…She said that students could speak with ELT about their concerns and that conversations were always going to be happening on campus.”

Charlie Hatch, the DEIB chair, told The Herald, “We should have been properly trained for this meeting, we didn’t even know the dress code for the meeting, let alone whether or not the questions were. So, we didn’t know if we should stick to the questions that were created... that left us in a very vulnerable position to the point where we were targeted, specifically black and brown people.”

Jenkins said, “I was attacked specifically for my identities and for what I know are assumptions about the other identities that I carry.” They also said they were interrupted several times by Jo Allen.

Hatch shared during the interview with The Herald that “it’s incredibly frustrating that time and time again I keep repeating myself on how important it is to communicate well with each other, especially before going before executive leaders. However, that continues to not happen, and it results in meetings where students are disrespected… Regardless, all students should be treated with respect and not belittled in any way, shape or form. Dr. Jo Allen’s behavior during the meeting towards Aminah was disrespectful and unprofessional.”

Students can get involved with these and other issues on campus by submitting facility reports, emailing their Student Life Committee Chair, or contacting SGA Executive Board members using the email address or any of their personal emails. Students are also encouraged to attend open SGA meetings to share their concerns. The next open meeting is November 15th in Harris 214.

President Jo Allen was also contacted for a statement on this matter and shared this statement,

“The goal of the private meeting requested by the SGA Executive Board was for the Executive Leadership Team and the SGA Board to develop an even stronger relationship.

During this meeting, ELT gained a better understanding of SGA roles and priorities for the year, and we hope the SGA Board came away with a better understanding of our roles.

We take to heart the ideas, questions, and concerns shared with us on behalf of many students, and the Executive Leadership Team is exploring these concerns and potential solutions regarding campus safety, lighting, and facilities.

Some of the questions students brought to us —especially regarding building names— do not have easy answers. The College takes its obligation to shared governance, a bedrock of American higher education, very seriously. As I explained in this meeting, there are things that I, as president, cannot unilaterally do on behalf of the College. Many important institutional issues, such as renaming buildings, are the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to decide. I acknowledge that the process may feel cumbersome and have relayed the feedback provided to the chair and full Board of Trustees. While I do not speak for the board, the chair has given me permission to let you know that she and the board leadership will take these ideas into consideration as they continue their systematic review process alongside other board priorities.

I look forward to continuing to work together with SGA and others to benefit Meredith's students.”

One of the sources for this article is The Herald's editor-in-chief, Aminah Jenkins. Because of this conflict of interests, they participated only as a source and did not contribute in any way to the writing or editing of this article.

By Kayla Dunn, Reporter



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