The current Smith-Brown Memorial Union was built over twenty years ago, and now Southern University representatives have announced plans for updates and renovations.
On Thursday, October 7th, Southern University hosted a Chat n’ Chew to discuss ideas with students. Representatives received student feedback and suggestions regarding a new student union and housing plans. There were two sessions held in the Cotillion Ballroom located in the Smith-Brown Memorial Union.Faculty from Student Affairs were in attendance to assist with processing student ideas, comments, and concerns.
“Fifty years from now when you all come back to Southern University, we want to make sure you walk the halls confidently seeing your investments and ideas. The Chat n’ Chew is just about getting those student ideas. We’ll be doing these meetings weekly with students and SGA,” said Dr. Anthony Jackson, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs, regarding his expectations for how the Chew n’ Chat will be beneficial in the long run, as well as the main purpose behind it.
The event was divided into groups so that students could be partnered with faculty groups to conduct group conversations. Students were separated into three groups according to a notecard they received upon entrance into the ballroom. The colors were orange, green, and pink. The group sessions were centered around several discussion topics such as the what the student union means to students, the strengths and weaknesses of the current student union, the role that a new facility should play for students, the priorities for a new student union, space concerns for both the current and new student union, as well as student opinions on residential and communal style housing.
Each group had a student scribe who took down the notes from their group session. The groups also chose a student to summarize the group's conversations.
Despite having separate group sessions, the students had similar concerns. The students felt that the current union’s housing of the student affairs staff was important. They felt there needed to be more space and a modern structure in a new union. The students felt that more food options in a new student union was essential alongside younger staff.
Towards the end of the meeting students were fed lunch from Chick-fil-a, which is currently located in the Smith-Brown Memorial Union. Students were encouraged to spread the word to other students regarding the second session as well as a student survey to get further information.
For more information regarding the Smith-Brown Memorial Union and reconstruction you can stop by student affairs which is located on the second floor of the student union!