The Student Government Association (SGA) held a town hall meeting in the Upper Dining Hall on February 7. Attendees were able to ask questions and share their opinions on the recent announcement regarding academic changes.
Prior to the meeting, SGA Vice President of Budget and Finance Paige McNamara (’24) discussed why it was being held.
“After that email was circulated and faculty had a town hall, there was a lot of students who were upset with being left in the dark, and the faculty town hall went very poorly,” said McNamara. “We felt this was a good way to show that students can be just as informative, if not more respectful.”
According to SGA President, Stephanie Matte (’23), SGA members were unaware of the email addressing program changes on campus.
“We had no idea that the email had even gone out, so we learned from other students. There are only so many things that SGA and our senators are connected to,” Matte said. “This town hall came up because students came to us and said, ‘What can you do to help us? Our program is at risk.'”
The town hall meeting began half an hour late at about 3:30pm, with approximately thirty people in attendance. The conversation was primarily led by Don Brezinski, Executive Vice President on Campus, and Cara Procek, Vice President of Academic Affairs. Other administration members were also present to provide their input, including Dean of Students, Meagan LaMarca; Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus-Based Initiatives, Heather Lorenz; and Vice President of Academic Operations, Jane Yerrington.
The meeting began with Brezinski stating that he was aware of the social media posts and email being circulated. He then opened up the discussion.
Attendees expressed concerns about the programs at risk of being “banked” or transitioned to minors. One discussion that arose was student concern for their professors. In response, Brezinski stated that they “are not terminating the professors.”
Subjects of conversation branched out to topics such as the shortened winter break, the SETA Annex, and other student concerns.
Following the results of the town hall meeting, Matte shared her thoughts.
“I think the town hall…went really well. I think students were asking really good questions of administration and I think it was a great way to bring administration back to a student level and get students and administration interacting again, face to face,” said Matte.
Matte discussed how students were also able to bring up other concerns they had regarding campus functions that the administration wasn’t aware of, such as the lab fees at SETA.
Matte and McNamara also noted that the faculty town hall meeting on January 11 was “pretty unruly.”
“The faculty [town hall] did not go well at all. It was…disrespectful, naturally so as they did not get much say in this consideration. I think a lot of people think that these things are set in stone but they’re only recommendations to Paul,” said McNamara.
Matte described the student town hall meeting as being “polite.”
“We felt that our students really asked their questions in really respectful ways. They really did a great job at keeping their questions to the point while also still applying pressure to administration to get their questions and get their points across without being completely outrageous,” said Matte. “I’m really proud of how our students handled themselves.”
When asked about her thoughts regarding communication between SGA and administration, Matte said, “I hope that there’s the opportunity in the future moving forward for a member of student government to be involved in closed-door conversations. I think communication is a two-way street. As much as SGA reaches out to administration to ask questions and get answers, administration could also be reaching out to students, specifically to SGA, to invite students to be part of their conversations and to hear the student perspective.”
Matte wanted to remind students that SGA is there to listen.
“When you have a concern or suggestion on campus, please come to us. We’re here to help you, we want to support you, [and] we want this to be the most positive experience you can have. We also want to make things better for the future of SNHU students,” Matte said. “Student government is here for students. We’re here to support students, we’re here to be the voice of students to administration.”
SGA is planning to host more town hall meetings with specific focuses, as well as ones open to general topics. They also encourage all members of the SNHU community to join their senate meetings, which are held on Tuesdays at 5pm in the Green Center, room 102A. Students can also visit their office located in the Student Center, room 15, or send an email to email@example.com with questions.