Robert Davies, one of the two presidential candidates at Murray State, met with 12 students for a question and answer session Monday afternoon to address concerns on campus.
The students represented different organizations across campus and addressed issues those groups face.
The following students met with Davies:
• Chris Koechner, representing the Student Government Association
• Courtney Brasher, representing the Black Student Council
• Morgan Randall, representing Alliance
• Sidney Anderson, representing the Residential College Association
• Michael Dobbs, representing the Interfraternity Council
• Lexy Gross, representing the College Panhellenic Council
• Antonio Seals, representing the National Pan-Hellenic Council
• David Vowell II, representing the Veteran Student Organization
• Luke King, representing the Honors Program
• Lance Carter, representing Campus Ministries
• Elizabeth Hammons, representing graduate students
• Caitlin Dunaway, representing the freshman council
Students were also invited from the International Student Organization and athletics, but weren’t represented in the meeting.
Davies began by telling a story of conflict on his campus, Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oreg. When a professor came to Davies’ office, handing over a letter of resignation, he said he immediately asked why.
The professor, who identified as transgender, said she wanted to avoid conflict on EOU’s campus. Davies said he tore up the letter and realized her story was part of a bigger problem on campus.
The professor, who also wrote a research paper on integration of the transgender experience in Anchorage, Alaska, put together a video project on the history of gender identification. She discussed the role of gender change in the life of a clownfish in the presentation.
As a representative of support for diversity and equality at EOU, Davies wore a pin of “Nemo” on his lapel every day after that, he said.
“Life at a university is about allowing people to be who they truly are,” Davies said.
Along the lines of diversity, Davies discussed the importance of not only having multicultural centers on campus, but helping students one-on-one with challenges they might face. He also said universities should embrace the fact that veterans will continue to trickle onto campuses in a steady manner, unlike in the past.
He said a vital part in understanding student issues is knowing the correct approach to a problem.
“I don’t come to you with answers, I come to you with questions,” Davies said.
Davies said a goal he would have as president of Murray State would be to meet every student before they graduate. Davies claims he knows the name of most students at EOU.
When asked why he wanted to come to Murray State, Davies laughed and said he suspects his daughter nominated him. Davies said his daughter wants to attend Murray State and eventually go to veterinary school at the University of Kentucky.
Davies said Murray State is the ultimate, capstone presidency he wants for his career in education.
He also touched on the budget climate at Murray State, and said he admired how Interim President Tim Miller promoted transparency in his recent budget forum.
When asked about Greek life and student organizations, Davies discussed his time at the University of Nevada as a member of Lamda Chi Alpha. He said accountability of these organizations is necessary to help them succeed.
As Vice President for University Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Davies said he did a ride-along with a police officer one weekend and saw first hand the issues Greek organizations were dealing with.
“Then we dealt with it from there,” he said.
The open forum with Davies will be held at 4 p.m. Monday in Wrather Auditorium. Davies also met with faculty and staff constituency groups on campus Monday.
Story by Lexy Gross, Editor-in-Chief
Editor’s note: Lexy Gross, Editor-in-Chief, was invited to sit in on the committee of students representing campus groups as president of the College Panhellenic Council. While she did address concerns in that community, her primary focus was on campus as a whole and providing information for The News. This story was edited on Sept. 18, 2014.