SGA VP: University took over ‘Kat Chat’ town hall event, left SGA little control
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 00:09
The Student Government Association spent the past two months organizing “Kat Chat,” scheduled for Wednesday, where students were supposed to be able to ask questions to President Dana Gibson as well as other university officials.
But those plans have changed by way of the President’s Office, according to members of SGA.
Originally, Gibson and the other officials were supposed to address the students with short introductory speeches (just as she is scheduled to address faculty and staff on Thursday). Then, students would submit questions for any of the following officials on the panel:
Dana Gibson, Ph.D., Frank Parker (V.P. of Student Services), Mark Adams (V.P. of Information Technology), Heather Thielemann, Ph.D., (V.P. of Enrollment Management), John Yarabeck (Dean of Students), Frank Holmes (V.P. of University Advancement).
Instead, Gibson will be the only speaker aside from moderator and SGA President Shane Rankin. It is unclear whether the aforementioned officials will still attend the event.
“We’ve been planning this for two months,” SGA Vice President Kolby Flowers said. “That’s what our entire summer was about – planning this event.”
According to Flowers and another university official who spoke on conditions of anonymity, the student government had no input on the changes made, nor given reason for the changes.
“From what I was told, Dr. Gibson is the only one who is going to be speaking,” Flowers said. “No one else is allowed to give a presentation and students can ask questions, but only about the information she (Gibson) presented.”
So if Gibson doesn’t talk about parking, students may not get their parking questions answered. If Gibson doesn’t address financial aid, students may not get financial aid questions answered, etc.
“It’s 100 percent counterproductive to what we wanted to do,” Flowers said. “This was supposed to be an event where students could get their questions answered about all aspects of Sam Houston State University, not just what Dr. Gibson needs to say.”
SGA is still expected to pay the $130 cost of refreshments for Kat Chat, despite the university taking control.
SGA created a Facebook event for Kat Chat on August 13 and there were 85 confirmed guests attending as of Monday night. The page also confirms the original plans.
Flowers said Rankin notified him of the changes on Thursday. The Houstonian couldn’t reach him by press time.
The Houstonian also reached out to the President’s Office on Friday for comment on what to expect from Kat Chat, but was redirected to SGA.
Kat Chat is scheduled for Wednesday at the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center. The next day, Gibson will speak to faculty and staff at the same location -- what the school website calls the “state-of-the-university” address.
“This (Kat Chat) is something that student government created,” Flowers said. “This is something a lot of our senators put a lot of effort in to. We really want to get students involved.”