By ANDREA BEASLEY
Grambling State University Media Bureau
Grambling, LA – University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley met with five SGA leaders on Tuesday because she wants to understand student concerns – and they spoke up on behalf of Grambling State University students.
Woodley asked to meet with student leaders, and they met in President Frank G. Pogue’s conference room for close to an hour. SGA President Jonathan Allen and others told Woodley how much they like Grambling and how they have enjoyed their time at what would soon be their alma mater since all are graduating seniors. They talked about their favorite GSU traditions, including going to football games and swaying with the World Famed Tiger Marching Band. They also expressed concerns about some discourteous faculty and staff, university communication challenges and disconnects when one office says one thing and another says something different.
Allen said though neither he nor Pogue think students should have to pay for an adequate library, the student leadership team wants to show how important this is to students by supporting a bill for a student fee of $150 per semester. He acknowledged that the student body is split about the fee proposal.
If all goes according to plan, university students will vote whether to add a fee specifically for a new library. That would happen only after student leaders sign a bill and after the ULS Board considers the library bill and other bills later this month.
“When we present these ideas we have someone who understands what this means to us,” said Demi Spencer, 21, a biology major from Alaska who serves as the SGA vice president. “The fact that they know our voice …someone will be able to vouch for our small university.”
When asked whether the library approach was a good idea, Woodley deferred, saying she doesn’t know enough about the issue and would review it. She applauded the student leaders for taking on such a serious issue.
Corban Bell, 22, SGA chief of staff, felt Woodley “seemed like an open and active listener” who “was actively asking a lot of questions and then taking notes, making eye contact, and responding to what we were saying.”
“She didn’t really come in there with an agenda,” added the senior accounting and economics major from Haywood, Calif.
During her first month on the job in Baton Rouge, Woodley is spending a full day at each of the nine ULS universities, including the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University. She’s had nearly the same schedule on each campus, spending time with the president, vice presidents and deans, faculty-staff senate representatives and students.
Woodley earned her undergraduate degree as the young mother of two small children after being married at 18. She went to school while working, taking 10 years to complete her first degree. The Alabama native looked beyond those financial and other challenges, which included a divorce and becoming a single parent because she was determined to be successful and provide a good life for her kids.
Her non-traditional background “gives her a different perspective,” said Baton Rouge native Jodi Mauroni, associate vice president for education policy and initiatives with the UL system. Mauroni and Jackie Tisdell, the ULS assistant vice president for communications have been touring the campuses with Woodley. Mauroni added, “everybody is looking forward to working with her.”
“I really want to understand what the university is proud of and I want to understand the challenges that the universities do have,” said Woodley, “particularly, over the past few years where there’s been tough financial times.”
Woodley oversees nine universities in the UL system, which includes 92,000 students with a total budget of $762 million annually. Other than Grambling State University, La. Tech and ULM, the UL system includes McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern State University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of New Orleans.
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