By Haley Hadge
SGA met with representatives of WittKeiffer, a firm focused on supporting the search committee for a new University president, at its meeting Sept. 28.
Lucy Leske, Sandra Chu, and Phil Tang, senior staff members at WittKeiffer, attended the meeting over Zoom.
Tang said, “The conversations we have had with your colleagues, faculty, and staff have been extremely important in our conversations with the candidates.”
He added these on-going dialogues allow the WittKeiffer team to “genuinely” and “authentically” share insights into the University’s culture.
Tang asked senators what they thought “distinguished FSU from other state schools,” what the next president should “prioritize,” and what qualities the candidates should possess.
SGA President McKenzie Ward said she values the tight-knit feeling of FSU fostered through working with and knowing administrators and executive staff.
“They’re [students and faculty] not two separate entities in the University. ... They’re actually willing to work together,” Ward said.
She added the new President should continue FSU’s anti-racism work and make sure they are “very student focused.” Willingness to work one-on-one with students and actively listen to their input will be essential in achieving this, she said.
Senator Emma Laurie said she has seen transfer and commuter students placed on the “back burner” regarding events and resources and thinks it is important for the next president to understand the “typical college student model is changing.”
Laurie added there is an “unintentional divide” for these students when it comes to involvement due to the later meeting times of many organizations.
Senator Raffi Elkhoury, expressed the importance of having someone with a “diverse background” pertaining to their experience and identity.
Vice President Emma Sullivan said she would like to see a woman of color take the role. “We have a very diverse campus and I want our president to reflect that.”
Ward asked the WittKeiffer team what they have relayed thus far to the potential hirees.
Chu said she has shared with the potentials that FSU students’ “ambition to succeed is very palpable!”
Tang said he doesn’t try to “sell” the institution or “convince anyone that this is the place for them.” Rather, he aims to transparently present FSU, and if a candidate gets “spooked,” he said that’s “quite frankly” fine.
He added where one candidate “only” sees an overbearing challenge, others see opportunity to grow and learn.
Ward thanked everyone who shared their input. She said the senators are helping ensure a “great future for the rest of the university for future students and for the faculty and staff.
“You all are doing amazing work, and you are truly making a change in the university by giving your input,” she added.
During Open Forum, members expressed concerns related to COVID-19 and student wellbeing.
Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dara Barros said she is concerned mask-wearing compliance continues to be ignored by students in the weight room.
She said she saw student athletes wearing their masks around their chins when she went to the weight room Sept. 21.
Barros added, “It’s completely unfair that we [students] pay for the @tness center” and it was closed. Yet, the individuals who were the cause of the closure are allowed to continue using the facility, she said.
She said her “biggest concern” is this incident occurred under the supervision of a trainer, and they were never told to correctly wear their masks.
Outreach and Events Coordinator Emily Rosenberg said she is concerned about a lack of online communication from professors. She said some professors do not allow technology in class.
Rosenberg added her greatest worry is they aren’t allowing the use of online textbooks during class. Physical textbooks are more expensive, and therefore are not always a “financially feasible” option for students, she said.
Secretary Samuel Houle said he was frustrated with the “lack of late-night spaces” to work.
Houle added it was “extremely frustrating” to be “kicked out” of Hemenway and other spaces at 10:30 p.m. since dorms are not always the most conducive to productivity.
John Finkle was sworn in as SATF treasurer, and Emma Laurie and Phineas Sparrow were sworn in as senators by Ward.
Emma Laurie was awarded this week’s “U-Rock.”
[Editor’s note: McKenzie Ward is Opinions Editor of The Gatepost. Emily Rosenberg is an Arts & Features Editor of The Gatepost.]