SGA Meeting 9-28: Hurricane Recovery


Photo by: Jessica Mouton

The Student Government Association (SGA) held its weekly meeting in the LeBijou Theater, which opened the floor to guest speakers who discussed campus programs and hurricane relief efforts in addition to visiting concerning topics regarding the ongoing pandemic.

The meeting began with Executive Director in Higher Education Dr. Eugene A. Dial’s address to the Senate. He explained to the Senate that Nicholls has a master’s degree in higher education that branches off into two main parts: general administration and education and educational technology and leadership. 

He said that those graduating with this degree are extremely likely to find employment immediately upon graduation, and he even recollects that, “not a single graduate of the program in the last 5 years is currently employed somewhere in higher education.”

He explained that the program has a requirement of 36 hours that can be taken at a rate of 3 classes for 4 semesters, which would result in a two-year graduation. He did say, though, that some students opt to terms in the fall, spring, summer, fall to finish in 17 months. 

He also explained that there are nearly 80 assistantships to help students pay for the program, and students who take part in the program receive stipends each month based on the specific assistantship one holds in order to help pay tuition and for books. 

Next, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Michele Caruso addressed the Senate regarding hurricane reliefs and ongoing COVID-19 problems.

“It was so good to see so many people back on campus,” Caruso said. “I heard that the union was packed, and the lines were long, but that’s wonderful because it means people are back here.”

Caruso also expressed her hope that returning students would find their connections back on campus very quickly, but she understands that it may be difficult with many still displaced. 

“We do know, of course, of many students, faculty, and staff who are struggling with more damage to their neighborhoods, environments, and homes; and we want to be very cognizant of that as we move forward,” Caruso said. “We want to make sure that all those displaced members of our community still feel connected and that we have not forgotten about them.”

In an effort to do so, Caruso explained that as planning for the rest of the semester is underway, it will be kept in mind that many people are not able to return to campus right now. Additionally, Caruso said that busses packed with supplies will be in Larose on Thursday and in Montegut on Friday. 

“We’re just going to talk to people, listen to people, and hopefully bring them a sense of comfort in addition to supplies, such as hotspots for students who still have no access to internet [connection],” Caruso said. 

She went on to talk about a few campus projects that need attention. 

“We still have a few roofs that need to be fixed, a few interior spaces that still need work… If you’ve been in the cafeteria, you will notice that the space looks a little different,” Caruso said. “We do have a long-term plan, but for now, our main focus was just getting students back in there, so we have taken booths out and thoroughly cleaned the space for use.” 

Caruso explained that the campus has been opened up to students who used to be commuters, as well as their families and pets. 

“We now have I believe 170 or so used-to-be commuter students living with us here on campus with their families and pets,” Caruso said. We are really glad to have the opportunity to be the place of refuge for them and their families.”

She also said that Shell gave the school 20 grants to help students in most need by covering living expenses and other needs in their time of recovery. 

Caruso emphasized that students who are under extenuating circumstances need to be very transparent with their teachers because they should be willing to work with those on a case-by-case basis regarding online options for those who cannot commute. 

Regarding COVID-19, Caruso briefed the Senate on plans to start random testing for students who are unvaccinated beginning next week. She said that this has already begun for the faculty and staff of the university. 

She said that it was a decision made by the board of the UL system.

“Testing will be conducted between 10 am and 5 pm by the guard who will be on campus until the end of the semester,” Caruso said.

Regarding homecoming, Caruso explained that events are underway, though in a condensed format. 

She said that approximately 150 nominees have been submitted and that applications are due at the end of the week this week, and interviews will be conducted over zoom next week.

Caruso explained that many of the first responders that were living in Babington Hall have moved out of there and into some of the recently vacated tents in the stadium parking lot. Some tents were vacated because some of the responders have been sent home. 

She said that as electricity is restored in the lower parish regions, the National Guard will also begin to relocate, which will open parking lot space for students. 

SGA President Tyler Legnon concluded the meeting with his address to the senate.