SGA hosts Fall Forum, a discussion with UK students, organizations


UK President Eli Capilouto. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Natalie Parks

Providing transparency for the student body and organizations is just one of UK Student Government Association’s many agendas. 

On Tuesday night, SGA hosted its Fall Forum, an event where students, administrators and community members come together to discuss issues affecting the UK campus and community.

This year’s forum was held in Kincaid Auditorium from 7 to 8 p.m. Five UK administrators, including President Eli Capilouto and Provost David Blackwell, were present to serve as panelists.

The initial questions came from the SGA hosts, and included topical concerns like the Kentucky Can campaign, minority recruitment and the new game day zone.

Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday was one of the panelists and expressed his goal for the night was to have “good discussion, good feedback, and a dialogue of challenges yet also discussion about opportunities and goals for the future.”

Monday answered a question from the hosts about the university’s shift from merit-based to need-based financial aid, expressing that the university would expand both types of aid to better meet the needs of its students.

“They are not mutually exclusive,” Monday said.  

Of greatest concerns to most students is the new game day zone for tailgating. Associate Provost for Student and Academic Life Greg Heileman spoke about this initiative, emphasizing that it was created to serve the needs of the students and that interviews and focus groups were underway to garner feedback about how the game day zone can become a space for the entire community.

“[The game day zone] is part of a larger wellness initiative across campus,” Heilemen explained.

The latter half of the forum was dedicated to questions from the audience. Major topics of concern included mental illness among graduate students, the university’s relationship to fossil fuels, wages of campus workers and the Robinson scholars program.

“It’s important for students to come to the fall forum because it’s a chance for people like President Capilouto to listen to their ideas,” College of Education Senator Lauren Griewe said.

The funds for the Robinson scholarship have been renewed for the 2019 fiscal year, but not for 2020. Blackwell noted that the administration was aware of the issue and was already discussing ways to accrue an income to continue funding the program. With that in mind, some fund balances have been put away to honor commitments to students already in the program.

“This is a great opportunity tohear what students are experiencing and give us insight into how we can help make it better,” Blackwell said.

Senior Beau Revlett was in attendance with a group of friends to increase awareness of food and housing insecurities among students.

“There’s work to do,” Revlett said. “The administrators know what the problems are, but aren’t ready to take concrete steps, but they are open to discussion.”

Revlett’s group and others hope to meet with the administration in the coming weeks to further discuss the concerns they have, a desire shared by the administration.

SGA members hoped that the night would provide a space for students and administrators to hold a direct conversation.

“[I’m] very pleased with the turnout of the event,” Academic and Student Affairs Chair Sara Khandrani said. “I think the students that did show up had very good questions and concerns and seemed very passionate.”

Though there was not time for all questions to be addressed, the forum covered a wide swath of issues that will affect UK going forward.

The civic engagement of UK students and administration was a promising start to cooperating on these issues.

“I hope we can all do better,” Revlett said.