‘The house is not in order,’ Dean of Students meets with USG

By Brandi Courtois, News Editor

The Dean of Students met with the Undergraduate Student Government to discuss issues students face on campus.

Jennifer Jones-Hall, Dean of Students, has been at SIU for three years. Her position serves many areas including fraternity and sorority life, multicultural organizations and Student Rights and Responsibilities. 

Ailis Vaughn, a senator representing LGBTQ students on campus, said most of the members of Saluki Rainbow Network are gender-neutral or trans. 

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Vaughn’s constituents put their preferred name into the system, but they are still dead named in the medical center and in emails or are misgendered.

A dead name is the name a trans individual was assigned at birth and no longer identifies with.

“It’s not good for our members to be almost harassed,” Vaughn said. “It’s very bad for their mental health, and they’ve been very upset about it.”

Jordan Hughes, chief of staff, said an issue he’d noticed on campus was that somewhere along the line there’s a gap between administration and the student body.

“Administration that’s responsible for this area should be more involved in students,” Hughes said.

Jahi Parham, a student attending the meeting, said the university needs to make it more comfortable for students.

“At the end of the day, if it’s not comfortable for us then we’re not going to want to come back,” Parham said. “It does feel like the house is not in order.”

Parham said he’s been at SIU for three years and has seen Mae Smith, Neely and Schneider closed, the decision to bring a police academy to SIU tabled and a neo-nazi kicked off campus. 

“I was a part of all those things in three years, which means that it’s clear that SIU has some stuff that they need to work on right now,” Parham said. 

Parham said if the university cannot work on it internally and make things safe, comfortable and welcoming. There won’t be any new students, and the university won’t keep the ones they have.

Ke’Onna Raggs, a senator representing students at-large, said there are problems with campus police and housing.

Raggs said she has had no reason to stay here since her freshman year. This is her third year, and she said she would be ready to leave if it hadn’t been for the peers and the friends she had made.

Alexia Williams, a senator representing the Black Affairs Council, said she felt like it was more welcoming when she first came to SIU. She said there were a lot more activities to do but now, she said she doesn’t see administration on campus.

Phynix Huhn-Simmons, executive vice president of USG, said the administration is misdirecting their funding and energy.

“What I see is that we spent money on a Mongolian Grill and an Esports arena,” Huhn-Simmons said. “But I know with the Cinema Department, most of our equipment is broken.”

Huhn-Simmons said most of the equipment is broken and every mic has a broken piece. She said the Esports is fun and the grill is great for freshmen, but when they get into their academics, they’re going to see they’ve drawn the short stick.

“We’re putting money into getting freshmen here, but we’re not maintaining the students who we have,” Huhn-Simmons said.

Williams said the school needs to work from inside-out and focus on the students that are currently attending SIU before creating new programs to recruit students.

“We’ll get them here, and then they’ll go through the same stuff we’re already going through and then want to leave,” Williams said. 

Jones-Hall said the best way to get to administration was to go through the USG executive board.

“The chancellor position is going to listen to the undergraduate student leadership more than they are going to listen to Joe Blow off the street,” Jones-Hall said. “So, you can utilize that.”

Huhn-Simmons said it is USG’s job to be advocates for the student body. 

“You guys are senators,” Huhn-Simmons said. “We can do this together.”

Jones-Hall said she has worked under four different chancellors in her time at SIU. 

“I came in eyes-wide-open knowing that this community was in turmoil,” Jones-Hall said. “ I don’t think I expected three years of turmoil.”

Jones-Hall said she thinks once the university gets a system president and a chancellor without an interim title, it can move forward with a vision. 

Jones-Hall said she thinks the university would be in a different place if former Chancellor Carlo Montemagno hadn’t died. She called him a true cheerleader and said he was out and about in the university.

She said her vision for SIU is that it does need to retain its students, it needs to listen to them and be honest with them. 

“If this is not the place and you don’t love it, leave,” Jones-Hall said. 

Jones-Hall said the university needs faculty, staff and administrators who love SIU and love the students. She said it isn’t an institution without students.

“This is in my blood,” Jones-Hall said. “I love it here. I want this to survive.”

News Editor Brandi Courtois can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Brandi_Courtois.

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