SGA Town Hall gets some answers regarding meal plans, Gentilly Gardens issues

(Editor’s note: Marissa Pittman is chief of staff for the DU Student Government Association and a staffer on the Courtbouillon.)

NEW ORLEANS (October 15, 2021) – The SGA Town Hall last week showed results from its tireless advocacy, with the university pledging to address several controversial issues, including refunds for meal plans and the Gentilly Gardens issues, including asbestos there and items stolen during the Hurricane Ida evacuation.

The administration is expected to provide more information today regarding asbestos in Gentilly Gardens and when students who haven’t been allowed back in might be able to do so.

Ralph Johnson, director of business and finance, announced the administration’s decision to have Sodexo roll over DU Dollars to the spring semester – an unprecedented decision that was made after discussions with SGA President Mattie Harris and Mister Dillard Andrew Logan.

Another major controversy was an apparent lack of accountability over items students discovered were missing upon their return from storm evacuation. Several students shared stories of their items being stolen and work orders neglected.

Many were visibly distressed when, in response, Shaun Lewis, director of facilities, said, “It is impossible for me to do my job and watch all of the contractors” during room evaluations. He also blamed slow maintenance response on lack of staff.

Nevertheless, Lewis urged students to contact him directly ( for dire work orders that have not been addressed within 24 hours.

And if you had items stolen or misplaced from your room after Hurricane Ida, email Brendan Greene, legal counsel, at

Regarding the asbestos in the Gardens, students were notified in an earlier email from Lewis, but it was said to be “inactive” and no threat. However, when humidifiers post-Ida were used, this apparently “activated” the asbestos. As a result, some students have been unable to get back into their apartments to get their possessions.

Students expressed gratitude to Dr. Roland Bullard, vice president of student success, accepted after he promised more transparency from his office.

Meanwhile, Harris shared that SGA received a $1,500 grant from UNITE, a leadership development program. While more information will be shared in the coming weeks, we will partner with Daughters Beyond Incarceration to mentor young people and provide a glimpse of college life. 

If any of the comments or concerns from the meeting sparked your interest in student advocacy, SGA has a place for you.

For example, seven positions still have not been filled and must be appointed: chief justice, Senate chief of staff; DU ’22 senators (three); a DU ’23 senator; and a DU ’24 senator. Be on the lookout for more information about the appointment process via email, Instagram and Twitter (@sga_du).

We are just getting started.