Dillard University staff members recently assured students that food, financial aid, registration, student activities and communications will improve.
During a recent town hall meeting, Nick Harris, Vice President of Business Services, and Dominique Hayes, 2006-2007 SGA president, promised students that there would be changes in the Blue Devil Cafe. They said the menu will change, sanitation will improve, and there will be a vegetarian menu, which will be sure to provide a larger variety of food for vegetarians.
Harris said that on the exact day the meeting was held, he met with the Hilton chef and other members of the food department to discuss changing the menu in the cafe because students have been complaining about eating the same food everyday. Hayes also told the students that the employees of the cafe were going to start covering the food because, according to students, fruit flies, gnats and other pests have been spotted in vast amounts near the food.
Cynthia Thornton, Director of Financial Aid, said her office will continue to have flexible hours for students and if the hours were not flexible enough they would try to work around each student’s schedule.
Thornton said that the financial aid office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. She also said that if those hours are not convenient for students, to inform the office because the employees would come in earlier or stay later to satisfy them.
Contrary to what Thornton said, Jocelyn Durio, a senior from Beaumont, Texas said the financial aid office is far from flexible; neither does it close at 5 p.m. “Everyone knows financial aid closes before 5 p.m.,” Durio said.
Connie Seymour, University Registrar, explained that the registrar’s office is close on Fridays because she and others, who worked in the office, had to go to Dillard’s campus to retrieve information and records. She promised that if Fridays’ closure presented a conflict for students, the office would close another day, and open on Fridays.
Mahauganee Shaw, Assistant Dean and Director for the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, told students that there will be events once a week until the end of the semester.
Shaw said students have been complaining about limited activities at the Hilton hotel so to minimize the complaints, she and other staff members are going to host events every Thursday night. She also said that since there have been problems with the students hanging around in the lobby at night, there would be a room in the living quarters where students will be able to congregate freely.
.While representatives from the above areas discussed the changes they were willing to make, Chief Willie Bourda, DUPD, said he does not believe the security department needs improvement. Although since January, six cars have been burglarized, an ice chest stolen from the back of a pick-up truck and items stolen from the back seat of someone’s car, Bourda said he does not understand why there is such a big fuss over security.
According to Bourda, other than the robbery, which occurred when students where in an authorized area, the vehicles that were broken into and the items stolen from other vehicles were the only real problems the Dillard community has had concerning security. Bourda repeatedly said if there were more incidents other than those, “No reports are on file.”
Some students were not reassured by Bourda’s comments. “They keep saying nothing has been reported, to me they are saying they are waiting for something to happen, wasn’t the robbery enough,” Durio asked.
Nicole Collins, a freshman from Alexandria, La. was not satisfied with Bourda’s outlook on security. “Security is still kind of shady to me,” Collins said.
Both Durio and Collins said they were glad the other divisions at the university were willing to improve, but they said they believe security needs more improvement than any department and they cannot believe the security department does not see that.
“I thought it was an excellent meeting,” said Dr. Freddye Hill, Vice President of Campus Life and Enrollment Management. While Hill said she thought the meeting was effective, Durio thought the meeting could have been a little better. “There should have been a question and answer period,” she said.
“They let us know a lot, so there is going to be a lot of anticipation from the students,” Collins said. She also said other than security, she likes some of the promises the administrators made, but actions speak louder than words.
The meeting ended when Dr. Walter Strong, Hayes and Ronnell Perry, 2006-2007 SGA Vice President, told students that it is possible to improve communication within the Dillard community.