Interim Provost Brooke Barnett met with students at SGA event Pasta with the Provost. Collegian file photo.
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Student Government Association’s Pasta with the Provost gave students the opportunity to eat a meal while talking with Interim Provost Brooke Barnett. According to SGA president and senior criminology major Will Gigerich, although SGA has held events with multiple faculty members in the past, this was the first SGA event held with a single member of administration. The event bridged the gap between students and staff by giving students the chance to raise their concerns directly to Barnett.
Students of a variety of majors and years gathered around tables in the Reilly Room on Nov. 3 to eat pasta and chat with Barnett. Barnett said that most of the conversations she had were getting to know students, or students questioning what she does as provost although some students did express concerns regarding the advising process and food quality on campus.
Dominick Seppel, junior accounting and finance double major, took the chance to talk about teacher accountability when Barnett took a seat at his full table.
“It feels like in high school teachers have someone to report to,” Seppel said. “If they’re not teaching or doing a bad job … they’re held accountable for their teaching and how their students are doing. In college… kids are paying this much to go here … we should have nothing but amazing professors. The fact that there’s a lot of professors who consistently get bad reviews and stuff like that seems shocking.”
Barnett offered Seppel some suggestions of how to improve his experience, but it was nothing Seppel hadn’t already considered.
“She listed off some ways you can potentially report or try to give teachers those concerns,” Seppel said. “I definitely knew those were in place beforehand, it just leads to an issue of like do I want to talk to a teacher about things I think they could do better? Will that impact my grade in the long run? It definitely will affect some amount of bias for sure, so it’s good advice, good tips … but it needs to be more systemic change.”
According to SGA’s Speaker of the Senate and junior biochemistry major Cade Chezem, this event is part of SGA’s plan for each of the five SGA committees to hold their own outreach event each semester. The first one of these events, Pasta with the Provost, was organized by the Academic Affairs committee.
New this year, these events will give students the opportunity to get to know prominent people within the university. Chezem said the feedback SGA heard from students will be discussed in the Senate meeting following the event.
“This year we wanted to change up how we did outreach,” Chezem said. “I think that in the past we can all agree that SGA hasn’t done proper outreach to students, and so we wanted to fix that … I just want [students] to feel like they have a voice, and not just a voice, but we want them to know that we are acting on their voice … when they provide us feedback, we’re not just sitting there and not doing anything with it, we are actively trying to work to make their concerns no longer.”
Some students who attended the event did not have any concerns to bring up to Barnett. Barnett said that in some cases, she was surprised but excited to hear how well students are doing. First-year early childhood education major Hadley Pitre said she has not had any issues.
“I’ve had a positive experience so far, so I don’t really have any complaints,” Pitre said. “It’s been nice to meet her and just know that I can reach out to her if something does come up.”
By giving students direct access to high ranking people on campus, SGA hopes they can better address student’s concerns as they come up. Gigerich said he encourages students to engage with their student senators, representatives and executives if they would like to see change within the Butler community.
Students can email firstname.lastname@example.org to have their issues forwarded to the appropriate senators or executives. Students can also DM the SGA Instagram account or attend Senate meetings Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m in the Reilly Room to have their concerns addressed.
Barnett said the opportunity to interact with students is something she misses as she has transitioned from being the dean of the College of Communication to part of the university’s administration.
“The problem with anything in university administration, particularly if you come from the faculty as I did, is that you get further from the students the more you move into those types of roles,” Barnett said. “I think for students it’s always just nice to meet the people who lead the university and have a chance to know them as humans and to ask them questions, which people did readily … Any chance I can to spend time with students is a good day for me.”