Chats Lead To Change On Campus
Dec. 5, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton
“Have lunch on us!” That simple phrase in an email subject line jumpstarts conversations that can change campus life at Sam Houston State University. For nearly 20 years, the Division of Student Affairs has hosted a free student luncheon open to anyone on campus who wants to sit down with SHSU leaders. Every student is invited via email, and those who respond could get a chance to express what they like and what they would change about the university directly to Bearkat leaders who shape campus policy.
Frank Parker, vice president for Student Affairs, has attended these meetings for many years and explains that he is amazed at how productive they can be for both the students and staff.
“It is always fun for us to meet and greet students on campus during these luncheons,” Parker said. “Every group is different, but each time we are surprised because we usually come out of the meeting with at least one idea to take action on.”
Parker went on to explain how these chats lead to change on campus with one of the most recent ideas being adding hours to the Newton Gresham Library during finals week.
“We are always willing to change things and try a different approach if that is something that the students want,” Parker said. “We want to continue to use these group chats to find the pulse of campus and foster change for the better.”
Dana Hoyt, president of Sam Houston State University, attends these luncheons regularly as well. She also cultivates a similar relationship with faculty and staff with monthly luncheons where frank discussions take place.
“I always tell these groups to ask me anything and that nothing is out of bounds when it comes to these sessions. Good ideas can come from anywhere, so we want people to be able to speak their minds about the change they want to see on our campus,” Hoyt said. “A good leadership group is willing to listen and adapt. That is what we will continue to do at SHSU through meetings like this one.”
First generation student Nicholas Martinez had the chance to be a part of these discussions during his first semester on campus in 2015. He explained that this time with his peers inspired him moving forward and was a perfect welcoming to a new campus.
“I felt like this was a great opportunity for me to get to have lunch with these important people on campus. As a first generation student, it meant the world to me, to know that they take the time to sit and talk and hear what students have to say,” Martinez said. “Listening to everyone in the room gave me an idea of what to expect in college and made me realize that our administration does care and I like to think it led to my success here.”
Martinez is now a senior and was recently selected to attend another luncheon in October.
“I appreciate them taking the time to listen and take questions about what they can change to lead towards success of all students,” Martinez said. “Being able to come back a second time really showed how our leaders don’t just listen to us and move on. They actually follow through with action and changes on campus. I highly recommend any student to attend.”
Out of the hundreds that apply, about 20 students attend each of the several lunches throughout the semester. Not only do students who attend receive free lunch, everyone is also given a gift bag and entered into a drawing for a chance to win a prize. Be sure to look for the email with the subject “Have lunch on us” from the division of student affairs, click the link, fill out the survey and you will be entered for a chance to help change campus.
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