The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

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In the hot seat: SGA’s open forum between students and administrators

Jay+Byers%2C+Keyah+Levy%2C+John+Woell%2C+and+Heidi+Levine+attended+and+participated+in+discussions+about+student+concerns.+The+intended+goal+for+the+forum+was+to+bridge+the+gap+between+students%E2%80%99+need+for+information+and+reassurance+and+the+administrators%E2%80%99+knowledge+about+ongoing+issues+and+projects.+To+watch+the+whole+livestream%2C+visit+SGA%E2%80%99s+Facebook+page.
Kennedey Clark
Jay Byers, Keyah Levy, John Woell, and Heidi Levine attended and participated in discussions about student concerns. The intended goal for the forum was to bridge the gap between students’ need for information and reassurance and the administrators’ knowledge about ongoing issues and projects. To watch the whole livestream, visit SGA’s Facebook page.

Simpson’s Student Government Association (SGA) organized an open forum on Wednesday with a panel of administrators to answer a long list of questions that students voiced over the past couple of weeks.

Taking place in the Black Box, administrators Jay Byers, John Woell, Keyah Levy and Heidi Levine took turns addressing issues that students submitted to SGA.

Approximately 30 students attended the Q&A, including several SGA class presidents and senators.

Right away, the facilitator of the discussion, Student Body President Sarah Roberts, asked the panel if there were any updates on the Kent Campus Center expansion. There were plans in place to start construction on Kent in order to expand and move all dining services at the location revealed at last year’s open forum organized by SGA.

However, upon arrival back this past fall, updates or even answers about whether it was to be expected any time soon were unavailable.

President Byers decided to take the lead and declare that there are no longer any plans to expand Kent at this time.

“We came to the conclusion at the staff and board level that perhaps the better place or smarter idea is just to re-do Pfeiffer,” he said.

Byers explained that oftentimes when considering necessary projects, they will look at surrounding institutions that have undergone something similar.

Drake University in Des Moines redid its existing dining hall several years ago, and Simpson is partnering with the project advisor to create a plan for Pfeiffer. The projected timeframe for renovations to Pfeiffer is in the fall of 2026.

Another topic of discussion that was addressed was the new Greek Life Task Force implemented recently. Heidi Levine explained the driving reason behind creating the task force was that Simpson saw noteworthy declines in Greek participation after the COVID-19 pandemic, as did other institutions in Iowa.

The task force looks at how to improve the overall recruitment experience and work on unifying and strengthening the Greek chapters together. Levine said there were many discussions about balancing the composition of the task force so there is equal representation for current members of fraternities and sororities along with key staff members such as alumni and knowledgeable faculty. Additionally, she emphasized the importance of guidance instead of outright decision-making for Greek life as the goal of the new task force.

“We were also really thoughtful about what it was we asked them [the taskforce] to do because we’re not looking for some outside group to tell us how to run fraternity and sorority life,” Levine said. “We set some parameters around where we wanted their input, and we were clear that they’re not making the decisions. They are making recommendations.”

Roberts relayed concerns posed about the new tumbling and acrobatics sports program: “What is the college’s plan for accommodating more sports teams? Several student-athletes have concerns about the new tumbling program regarding spacing, facilities and practice time for other student-athletes.”

There are currently 25 sports at Simpson, and roughly 60% of the student body are student-athletes. n the last couple of years, four sports have been added, including men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s volleyball and women’s wrestling.

President Byers reassured the concerned crowd that the tumbling program will not start until the 2025-2026 academic year. Next year will be the time for hiring a coach and recruiting students for the following year.

He said that Director of Athletics Marty Bell has reassured him that there is adequate space for the newly added program, which would be Hopper Gymnasium, currently being utilized by the men’s and women’s wrestling programs.

Byers also noted that they are looking around for a closer training space for the gymnastics sports, as they primarily train in Grimes. Additionally, he expects there to be some crossover participants with the gymnastics and tumbling/acrobatics programs.

The aim is to grow the student body numbers through the new sports. “Athletics has been part of Simpson’s strategy for recruiting and retaining prospective students,” Byers said.

Lastly, an important line of discussion revolving around racially biased incidents between students, unprofessional emails from staff and professors and reassurance about mitigating racism were addressed.

Keyah Levy addressed the DEI-related issues by talking about the Off-Campus DEI committee and resources that can be found in Simpson’s DEI statement.

John Woell explained the process for handling unresponsive or unwilling faculty and urged students who are affected to go directly to the department chair, division head, or associate dean.

Heidi Levine reassured the concerned about the ongoing and continuous implicit-bias training that all faculty and staff are required to take part in, as well as Simpson’s mission to have events and places on campus that students can utilize to feel involved, included and recognized.

Additionally, Levy explained that the Foundations 2 class required for all students is another way to combat racism and foster critical thinking skills and conversations between students.

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