Student hosts town hall meeting for Appalachian community

Student hosts town hall meeting for Appalachian community

Gerrit Van Genderen

Members of Appalachian State University held a town hall-style meeting Thursday in Appalachian Hall to discuss the struggles, issues and positives about the university.

Approximately 18 people were in attendance for the event, which was held from 6 to 7:15 p.m. and was hosted by senior public relations major Shady Kimzey.

“I felt like there was not a place for students, faculty and staff across campus to come together and finally get all of these issues out on the table,” she said.

Kimzey said the goal of the meeting was to hear what everyone had to say and then compile a summary of what appeared to be the biggest issues addressed on campus.

After talking with multiple students at the university that were involved in different offices, organizations and groups, Kimzey said she felt that many did not feel properly included in certain events and campus activities.

Topics of discussion that were addressed during the meeting included racial and gender discrimination, lack of free speech, lack of interaction between certain clubs and organizations, sustainability campaigns and the lack of proper leadership in clubs and organizations.

“I have a huge problem with the programming [at Appalachian].” Berrac Appolis, music education major, said. “Not only is it geared toward people that aren’t of color, but it isn’t sensitive to women either. I just want to see more sensitivity in the language and actions that are taken.”

Appolis said that he has never been able to relate to any of the entertainment events that have been held at Appalachian, despite feeling that he likes a wide range of music and entertainment-based acts.

Mary Lyons, junior art education major, said that groups should have a space to hash out issues, both personal and organization-based to help focus on the tasks at hand.

“The people in the group might be there for the same mission, but there is not a space for them to work out internal issues,” Lyons said. “For the leadership teams especially, it would be more effective if there was an avenue for conflict resolution or figuring out how to focus on the priorities of the group.”

In addition to the issues addressed at the meeting, Kimzey said she hopes to hear from as many students of groups, organizations and clubs as possible about the issues and positive experiences they have had while at Appalachian.

The list of things Kimzey has asked groups to submit include, issues, concerns, positive or negative general experiences, places where people are included and excluded and changes that people want to see made.

In the upcoming university year, Kimzey’s goal is to create a committee that will hold several action-based events, such as a protest, that will make change instead of talking about issues hypothetically.

“I’m over the whole forum discussion,” Kimzey said. “I think that there have been a lot of forums, discussions and meetings with small groups of people, but there has not been a large scale place for everyone to come and talk about some of the issues students face here at App.”

The committee will be made up of individuals at Appalachian who are affiliated with a club, organization or are independent of any groups.

Kimzey first established the idea around the beginning of March and started working on it immediately. She began meeting with a group of three Housing staff members and one Appalachian and the Community Together staff member.

Kimzey said she hopes that the committee will be formed at the beginning of the fall 2014 semester and that it will meet bi-annually to discuss the events it will hold.

Story: Gerrit Van Genderen, News Reporter