USGA’s first town hall meeting of the semester was held in the Hill Student Center at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Several of UAB’s directors gathered to speak on their plans for the fall semester.
UAB President Ray. L Watts first spoke on the importance of diversity on campus.
“At UAB, we truly value diversity, because we really learn from each other,” said Watts. “UAB has almost 1,500 international students this year and that our student body and faculty represent over 84 countries.”
Watts also mentioned big plans for UAB regarding community outreach and sustainability.
“LA wants to reduce their carbon footprint by 2050. I don’t want to wait until 2050. I want to start today,” he said.
Watts discussed multiple efforts of UAB to improve the Birmingham community, such as reading programs for elementary students, sidewalk and lighting improvements and the provision of free at-home medical care in certain neighborhoods.
“We are now getting ready to move outside Birmingham … We are going to challenge corporations, universities, governments … It will affect millions of Alabamians,” Watts said.
Mary Wallace, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, also spoke at the town hall. She focused on UAB’s responsibility as a health-promoting university.
“We are one of the first universities in the nation to sign the Okanagan charter,” said Wallace.
According to the International Health Promoting Universities and Colleges network, and the University of British Columbia, the Okanagan Charter “calls on post-secondary schools to embed health into all aspects of campus culture and to lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally.”
“We take an explicit stance in favor of health, equity, social justice and sustainability for all while recognizing that the wellbeing of people, places and the planet are interdependent,” said Wallace. “By removing barriers and fostering a sense of belonging … our vision and values focus on being a student-ready university with student success at its core.”
Jennifer Griffin, director of Student Involvement and Leadership, discussed the growing presence of campus clubs and organizations.
“I anticipate seeing the number [of student organizations]grow,” said Griffin.
She also encouraged volunteering through BlazerPulse, UAB’s community engagement platform.
“Register to participate in [volunteer activities]and record your service … Our students reported over 22,000 hours of community service on BlazerPulse. [But] I have a feeling that much more community service was actually done,” Griffin said.
The assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, Stacy Rowan, spoke on Greek life on campus.
“Sometimes, we don’t always have the best opinions of fraternities and sororities,” said Rowan. “But I hope that by being here today, I can provide you with maybe a better outlook on Greek life at UAB.”
Rowan discussed ongoing training initiatives to prevent hazing and to promote health and safety training in Greek life.
“We’re gonna talk about alcohol and drugs and sex positivity and the things you might encounter so that you may be as safe as possible,” she said.
Director of Off-Campus Student and Family Engagement, Meredith Kahl, shared information about resources available to off-campus students. These included the Spring Housing Fair and the Off-Campus Student Lounge.
Kahl also touched on different tools that are provided on UAB’s Off-Campus Housing website.
“We have several different resources to help students find comfortable and affordable places to live,” Kahl said. “You can provide specific criteria and it can provide a list of complexes available to you … If you are looking for a roommate or have a room you need to sublet, you can provide that information, and the only people who will see your listing are other UAB students.”
Marc Booker, executive director of Student Housing and Dining, talked about the benefits of living on campus.
“Freshmen who live on campus are more likely to stay on campus with friends they have already lived with,” said Booker. “Their GPA’s are also higher.”
Student Multicultural and Diversity Programs Director, Herbert Wilkerson, gave an overview of a variety of diverse campus organizations, including the Black Student Awareness Committee, the Social Justice Advocacy Council, the Blazer Male Excellence Network, and Free Food for Thought.
Wilkerson also mentioned Queer Peers’ week-long Coming Out on the Green event as well as their upcoming Drag Ball this Friday.
“Who doesn’t love a drag show, right?” said Wilkerson.
“I see y’all saved the best for last,” said INTO UAB Student Engagement Specialist JoAnn Fong, the last speaker of the night.
“INTO UAB is an initiative to increase the global diversity of our student body and provide opportunities for faculty to expand international teaching, research and service activities,” Fong said.
Fong also mentioned flagship events, including “Global Café” and “Pumpkin Palooza,” where [INTO] buys a bunch of pumpkins and lets students go crazy with [carving]tools.”
A Q&A was held outside of the meeting room where students could meet with the speakers.