By Kaden Quinn/Clarion News
LU President Jerald Jones Woolfolk hosted a Town Hall for students on Thursday evening in the Richardson Fine Arts Center to build better relations between students and the university. Topics included details regarding food plans, coronavirus safety, and new restrictions involving parking services for students.
Woolfolk began the event by stating that she was proud of what the student body had accomplished at combating the coronavirus. Whereas most young adults would throw caution to the wind, Lincoln students have remained committed to their health and safety, she said.
“You guys came in here after being out since March and you have taken all the proper precautions,” Woolfolk said. “You’re wearing your mask and washing your hands.” She credits students for keeping COVID-19 in single digits.
Woolfolk described the event as a way for students to share their thoughts and be heard by the LU campus administration. Several representatives from important bodies were in attendance, including staff, administration, and student representatives.
“This is your opportunity to let us hear your concerns,” Woolfolk said. “A lot of our faculty, staff, and administration have come out to hear your concerns. We know this is a difficult time for all of us and we want to make sure that we’re doing as much as we possibly can to keep you safe and to make sure this is a good academic year for you all.”
Heading the student side of the event was president of the Student Government Association, Logan Griggs-Mitchell. Woolfolk thanked the SGA president for her time, acknowledging her as an important student representative. Throughout the event, students had the opportunity to voice their opinions.
The conversation began with a discussion regarding meal plans for students and recent restrictions placed on them due to COVID-19. If a student picks up a to-go box they must now wait an hour before entering the cafeteria again. This decision was made to reduce capacity inside the building; however some students have felt this has negatively impacted their mealtime.
Food choice was discussed because many students feel their options are limited in a supposed “unlimited meal plan.” Two students mentioned a lack of different drinks to choose from, as well as a lack of vegan and vegetarian options.
While most of the conversation revolved around meal plans, food choices, and the dining hall, there was still some concern over the coronavirus. Even though the school’s positive numbers are relatively low, students remain concerned about the possibility of exposure. One student asking if the administration they could name sections or areas of campus where COVID-positive individuals frequented.
Although the school could not give the names of individuals or information that would single another person out, the Lincoln administration wants the student body to know they will remain healthy if they follow the safety guidelines.
“We’re a really small university, so if we were to say this classroom had a positive case and then all of a sudden one person is missing from that classroom, we’ve now identified who that person is,” said Lincoln’s Director of Health Services, Leasa Weghorst. “We have to protect people’s privacy and we can’t just give out all that information.”
Between concern over the coronavirus and dining hall, there was also some discontent with the parking situation at Lincoln. Some believe that with the shortened school year there should be a partial refund on the purchase of parking passes. It was explained that tuition and housing was not discounted, nor was the price of parking passes.
According to Woolfolk, it was her pleasure to host the Town Hall for Lincoln University. She believes that having a conversation is the most important thing that everyone can contribute at this time.
“As administrators and the staff that work here, we end up being so busy in the jobs that we don’t get an opportunity to interact with the students as much as we would like to,” Woolfolk said. “So that is why many of us go to the dining hall to eat and to spend some time with you. I want this Town Hall to continue and we’ll try to do another one before the semester ends. Then we can come back and report to you regarding some of the concerns that you have.”
Woolfolk said the dining hall is the higher concern for students. However, she also mentioned that the SGA’s Logan has plans with her Food Service Committee to start regular meetings with the dining hall staff.
“So, let’s make a list and give some priority to them and try to chop them off at least one by one,” Woolfolk continued. “We can’t fix everything in a day, a week, or a semester but if we constantly work on improving the services that we provide for you…if you constantly engage with us and we engage with each other, we can do this. And that is why I say we are all in this together.”