SGA hosts open forum

STORY BY ELLINOR COUCHMAN
VIDEO BY ALICIA FEYERHERM

Last week, the Fort Hays State University Student Government Association (SGA) hosted an Open Forum with four panelists representing student service departments at Fort Hays State University.  In attendance were Assistant Director of Residential Life Nathan Dozier, Assistant Director of Student Engagement Isaac Wilson, Drug and Alcohol Counselor Robert Duffy, and Chief of Police Terry Pierce.

Reflecting its duty to students, the SGA took a back seat to its own event.  Student Body President-elect and current Legislative Affairs Director Ella Burrows inaugurated and closed the event. For the open forum’s hour-long duration, attendees could freely ask the panelists about anything.  

Recurring topics included prospective parking changes, summer housing reform for on-campus residents, and privacy concerns reflecting the panel’s large sorority presence. Duffy was consistently impressed with student engagement in the discussion.

“There was a great variety of questions and I think students are, as we come out of the pandemic, getting back to some of the physical makeup of the university-type questions,” Duffy said.

Although most of the panel was relatively new to their positions, with Pierce, Wilson, and Dozier joining FHSU’s staff in 2022, each panelist took the opportunity to reflect on the concerns addressed to their respective departments. 

Duffy, who has worked at FHSU for 25 years, said he never partook in open forums for the first few years of his tenure.  As such, he’s excited to see such willingness to cause a change from upcoming staff and students alike.

“The leadership of campus has changed, and I think we’re going in a great direction where there’s a lot more shared governance going on,” Duffy said.

Pierce, for his part, said he’s taking the transition from Pittsburg State – where he spent the last 11 years – to Fort Hays in good stride.

“Officers are always going out and seeking new skills; they’re always going to training,” he said. “Part of that is mandated by the state, and part of that is finding training they’re interested in doing.  It’s a process of constant improvement.”

The event concluded with applause from the student attendees – not always agreeing with what was said – but remaining invested as old and new panelists alike affirmed devotion to their departments.  Reflecting on his role at FHSU, Duffy said he’s looking forward to the future of the student body.

“I’m the gray-haired old guy that works on the third floor of Fischli-Wills, but if somebody looks more a 20-year old–that’s who people are going to go to first, so having the students here asking us these questions allows us to give them the information and be able to make that referral,” he said.

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