By Dora Bell
On Nov. 9 at 6-8 p.m., a town hall style Falcon Forum was held in the theatre (and through Zoom) for the first time. The Campus Life and Leadership Coordinator and planner of the forum, Carson Mowery, encouraged members of the student body to interact with a panel of East Central College faculty and staff.
The panel was categorized by specific topics and each topic had a corresponding panelist. Paul Lampe, the Director of Advising and Counseling, led the topic of Advising. In his words, he explained that the purposes of Advising and Counseling services are to “assist students to find a career pathway that they are passionate about, as well as to direct them to a certain degree plan.” Mr. Lampe explained that the one-on-one services help create clear, structured plans for the students to follow.
When questioned about the best way for a student to communicate with their advisor or counselor, Mr. Lampe informed the group that Aviso and email are the preferred ways of communication; calling is also a direct line of communication, but calls directed to the Student Services department are usually returned that day.
Carson Mowery was the panelist of Campus Activities. Ms. Mowery explained that the best way to stay informed about upcoming campus events and activities is to be up-to-date on one’s email. Email is the main form of communication, she explained, but students can also reach her by meeting with her in her office.
When asked about forming a club, Carson Mowery explained that the three prospective club founders would indeed meet with her to ask to establish themselves as an official club. Along with meeting with The Campus Life and Leadership Coordinator to be approved, the prospective founders would have to create a club constitution. “A club constitution is basically the club’s purpose,” Carson Mowery explained.
The third panelist, Sarah Leassner, led the topic of Campus Spaces. Leassner highlighted that student involvement and feedback was vital to the aspect of areas around the Union campus. She said that any ideas concerning the improvement or beautification of the college can be communicated to her through email.
Currently, the Campus Spaces committee is consolidating a way for students to be able to make direct input to them other than email. The decision welcomes student feedback, as well, as the main two ideas are a physical drop box on campus where students can turn in their input, or a digital drop box that could be sent through email.
The idea of a tiny library was presented by Sage Sparkman, who (along with Brooklyn Hyatt, the President of SGA0 also acted as a forum moderator. Sarah Leassner supported the idea greatly, and continues to want the feedback of students about that project and ideas not-yet-suggested.
Dr. Michelle Smith was the head of the COVID-19 Protocol topic. Dr. Smith explained that the college has promoted the vaccine as one of the most efficient ways of protection from the coronavirus, as well as social-distancing and the use of masks.
When asked about why the free COVID-19 testing was stopped at East Central College Union campus, Dr. Smith explained that the decreasing numbers of coronavirus cases provided little reason to continue the service.
Shanee Haynes was the representative of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion topic. Assistant Professor Haynes explained that this group focuses on projects such as National Coming Out Day, Hispanic History Month, Black History Month, and the compilation of the Ally Directory, which can be accessed through the website of East Central College. It was further explained that student involvement is encouraged and appreciated.
When asked about a club with the same ideals for the student body to join, Shanee Haynes promoted the Gender and Sexualities club. The Gender and Sexualities club includes members of the student body who are committed to being involved and who encourage the inclusivity and acceptance of every student body member, regardless of their sexual orientation or expression of gender.
The Early College and Admissions topic was led by Megen Strubberg, the Director of Early College and Admissions department. Megen Strubberg further explained that though this department is for Early College students, all student involvement is encouraged to create plans to promote East Central College to high schools across the surrounding areas.
Dr. Robyn Walter spoke on behalf of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) visit and what impact it has on East Central College. She explained that the visit is important because it determines whether ECC is accredited, which makes transferring credits easier and reflects the quality of experience at the college campuses. There is a survey about student experience at ECC after the April visit, which students are encouraged to complete.
Following the presentation of Dr. Robyn Walter, the Falcon Forum session was adjourned with a feedback survey for the attending students to complete.
After the conclusion of the forum, Sylvia Sellers, the Performing Arts Center Manager, (who was in charge of the technical side of the event, such as microphones and displaying the presentations) enjoyed the idea and execution of the forum, stating “It’s wonderful to see students with these amazing ideas engage with their administration to bring new changes to benefit all students!”
Now with the first Falcon Forum complete, a second one is planned to be in the Spring semester for all students to ask questions, give feedback, and share their ideas. Be sure to contact Carson Mowery for more information about how to be involved in the college’s events.