Students take stand, question officials

Amanda Downs

Students voice their opinions at the annual Student Taking Action Night.
On Tuesday, Oct. 9, students were given an opportunity to voice their concerns to several university officials as part of the third annual Students Taking Action Night.
The event, presented by the Student Government Association, was held from 8:45-10 p.m. in the Young Dining Hall. A panel of several staff and officials were present for questioning, including Paul Johnson, director of food service; Amber Perrell, director of student activities; Clarence Birkhead, associate vice-president of safety and security; Edward Young, director of residence life; Elizabeth Davant, associate director of the Health and Wellness Center; Aaron Sisson, director of campus services; Bill Nichols, vice-president of campus planning and services; and Bruce Heldman, manager of network services.
A panel of SGA representatives took notes during the meeting so that officials from each department could review the proceedings and act upon them as necessary.
Students present did not shy away from the microphone as the floor was opened. Birkhead received the majority of the questions, mostly concerning shuttles, parking and ticketing. The associate vice-president explained some policy changes, like the elimination of shuttles to sporting events and from North Residence Hall, as due to recent budget cuts.

“We have had to scale back on less-important trips,” he said.

One predominant theme among student speakers was campus parking and the South Residence Hall parking deck. Senior William Boyd was assured that all senior South residents had parking spots in the facility and that the recently arrived decals were about to be distributed after asking about reserved parking for seniors. Commuters also had parking woes placated as Birkhead said that the administration was “willing to consider opening South to all residential and commuter students” after an estimated 65-spot vacancy was addressed.

“There will be an ample amount of parking to accommodate everyone,” said Birkhead.

Some Chartwells practices were also brought to attention, such as employee sanitation and lack of proper training.

“Training is something we do every day,” said Johnson. “Our goal is to give you guys the best service we can.”

 In response to an allegation of undercooked chicken wings served in the dining hall, Johnson nodded, acknowledging prior complaints about the incident.

“I was surprised by what happened,” he said, recounting how the raw, frozen wings were put straight into the deep fryer instead of being baked first, explaining the consistent temperature records. “The individuals were counseled and trained … [and] the entire kitchen was re-trained,” he said.

 One of the last topics to be discussed was smoking violations. Queens is not a smoke-free campus, but smoking is not allowed in or within 25 feet of buildings or in high-traffic areas such as Trexler and Diana courtyards. After a comment about the growing number of infractions, a debate erupted about possible solutions to the “smoking problem” and the removal of smoking privileges.

“We can launch a more aggressive enforcement campaign,” said Birkhead, “…but we feel it would be better if it came from the community.”

Perrell agreed, proposing that a student protest would be the best way to accomplish something if students were adamant about the issue.

Nichols stated that Queens had already acquired six smoking urns “to be strategically placed around campus” in addition to the pre-existing locations. “We’re trying to make it easy to find a place to smoke.”

Senior Alecia Coutain, who approached the microphone and asked several questions, said “yes and no” when asked if her questions were adequately answered.

“The people on the panel say they haven’t experienced or heard of a lot of the problems we brought up, but they’re not living the same life that we do … they’re not eating in the cafeteria every day. But I do feel like about 75 percent of my questions were answered.

 “Come to SGA members with any questions you have,”said Executive Vice-President CJ Woods to close the meeting. “That’s what we’re here for.”

“We have the power of petition, but we need a lot of voices to get things done,” added President Saray Smalls.
All students are welcome to SGA meetings, held every Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Dana 214.
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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.