By: Jaylin Paschal, Editor-in-Chief
The Cathy Hughes School of Communications Student Council held a town hall on Wednesday, Sept. 12 to discuss school and departmental advancements, advising, issues, opportunities and concerns.
Students from several classifications and majors came out to spend the evening educating themselves on school affairs and projects.
The chairs of the Strategic, Legal and Management Communications and Media, Journalism and Film departments answered questions from students present and submitted online.
Immediately following, questions on the general state of the CHSOC were addressed. Topics ranging from the Adopt-a-Team leadership to transparency and accreditation to media equipment were addressed by Dean Gracie Lawson-Borders. Problems presented by the old infrastructure of the C.B. Powell building were also explained and discussed as a challenge. Students tuning in online expressed concerns and confusion over the fall semester’s start.
“We are centralizing some things in the school in order to make them more effective. There are changes but they are to serve you,” said Dean Lawson-Borders.
Before discussing the recent changes in the school, Dean Lawson-Borders made it clear she could not comment on staff changes.
“Personnel and labor matters are things absolutely that cannot be discussed with students or anyone other than the individual,” said Dean Lawson-Borders.
Dean Robin Thornhill was one of the SOC staff members unexpectedly let go in August. Dean Thornhill focused on student affairs, building relationships with students focused on success.
“I did not only work for Howard University. I came to campus everyday to enjoy my greatest passions – education, students, servant-leadership. As an administrator and instructor in my role as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Assessment for CHSOC, I was able to be scholarly, creative, inspirational, and innovative,” said Dean Thornhill.
Chris Hemans, Executive Vice President of the CHSOC Student Council expressed his concern about a gap between students and the school created by the departure of Carol Dudley, former SOC Director of Student Development, and Dean Thornhill.
Dean Thornhill stressed the importance of remembering the role staff plays alongside students in Howard’s legacy.
“Howard employs some of the world’s greatest scholars. The Howard students are among the brightest in the nation. We have to remain committed to bringing these two groups together. The two entities come together and create an intellectual explosion. It’s amazing. And it happens every day all across the campus. However, the staff is a vital part of this combustion. The staff actually supports the fire that is created,” said Thornhill.
Similarly, Dean Borders stressed how important it is for students to get involved with the school on a more intimate level. She also stated the prioritization of communication and the distribution of information. Transparency has been a concern and priority for the semester.
“I shouldn’t find out that one for my favorite staff members has been let go on social media. As tution-paying students, we have every right to be aware of what’s going on,” said an SOC student who submitted an anonymous statement online.
Another student expressed frustration over the layoff of her professor resulting in her course being moved online. She was promised to still receive the full experience.
Additional internship and career opportunities for students were also discussed.
The CHSOC Student Council will continue to focus on opening communications pathways between students and faculty.
Dean Lawson-Borders closed by encouraging accountability and thanking students for coming out.
“I’m happy we can all come together to discuss what’s going on,” said Dr. Audrey Byrd.
To conclude the event, the council spoke directly to students directly to students about what they can do to help improve their experience in the CHSOC, including remodeling and revamping the student lounge.