TSU-SGA President speaks about 2020-2021 School Year
Written by Isaiah Robinson on July 31, 2020
By: Isaiah Robinson
HOUSTON—Texas Southern University Student Government Association President and her cabinet are working diligently to be a light in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as they not only plan, but also plant seeds of hope and positivity to harvest a stellar year for returning students.
Khaniya Burley, TSU’s 73rd SGA President, said there are many seeds that are being planted for the fall semester including a Black Lives Matter mural on the Tiger Walk.
“We have six projects we’re working on right now that we believe will accommodate, assist and be effective for students during this time,” Burley said. “Our amazing Vice President D’Angelo Colter brought up the idea to paint a Black Lives Matter mural on the Tiger Walk and we took it to Student Services”.
Even though Dr. Teresa McKinney, Vice President of Student Services, is currently looking for a contractor, SGA has already chosen a design and color, which will be the traditional yellow.
Plus, the student organization plans to conduct a peaceful protest from the BLM mural on the Tiger Walk to where Houston’s first sit-in was held March 4, 1960, which also involved former TSU students.
“Our awesome senator Kayla Choates, suggested that we put together an organized and peaceful protest from the mural to the location of the first Houston sit-in, Burley said. “We want to demonstrate, as TSU, that we can do something positive and uplifting as a community in light of what’s happening.”
Moreover, the SGA President discussed with KTSU2 News reporter Maiya Turner over an Instagram Live discussion about what students should prepare for as the first day of class approaches, informing the audience that the student organization is hearing the concerns from the students.
The biology, pre-dental major continued to expound on the initiatives they are doing to assist students; including a laptop check-out program.
“With our buildings being set to 50% capacity, students won’t be able to access the computers that are on campus to get their work done,” Burley said. “So, we are working a pilot program that will have about 1000 HP Surface laptops for students.”
She mentioned that the Office of Information Technology team at TSU is trained to fix the actual laptops that are being used, plus the program will have a technological fee.
Rest assured, the SGA President said that they are working on an option to have the fee removed for those who do not need the lab top.
Further, another initiative the student organization is exploring is an insurance policy for TSU students that would be covered through their financial aid, to whom she gives credit to her External Affairs Vice President Essence Terry for the idea.
SGA partnered with the Office of Risk Management and will propose the plan to the Board of Regents in the coming months to provide a security blanket for students and to make sure they have access to any medical car, if needed.
As of now, the SGA President said the policy is reflecting an accidental insurance policy; however, the team is working to push it to a full coverage policy and to emulate Grambling State University’s policy, who also provides full coverage for its students.
The proposal is a $5,000 coverage plan with a $39.95 deductible that will be covered through students’ financial aid, if they are a recipient.
Burley also mentioned another plan, which is to replace the Chic-Fil-A inside the Earnest S. Sterling Student Life Center with another fast food restaurant.
Although the SGA President said the project won’t be finished until next year, due to logistics, she did note that the team has heard from local food chains like Raising Canes, Golden Chick, The Breakfast Klub and Sunshines as possible replacements.
“I want my students to know that this project won’t be available and open until the beginning of next year,” Burley said. “This is the sacrifice year, we’re laying down the foundation for the next upcoming class to have these new restaurants.”
Burley said students should be aware of changes to housing.
For residential students, University Towers will hold one student to a room while University Courtyard and Tierwester Oaks will hold two.
Also, students living on campus will need to check their TSU emails between now for important information.
On the week of Sept. 7, students will be able to move into campus housing, as per the correspondence sent by TSU President Kenneth Huewitt on July 29, 2020.
In regards to the Student Life Center, the building will be at 50% capacity with a “one way in, one way out” scenario.
Students will only be able to enter the building through the doors in front of the Tiger Walk and leave out the doors that lead to the parking lot.
Burley also discussed what homecoming could like.
“We got together at the beginning of the summer and we laid out two plans: an in-person homecoming or a virtual/hybrid homecoming,” Burley said. “If we have to, we will go with the virtual/hybrid plan because it’s not all virtual”.
Burley said they are exploring options including hybrid.
“This is a time for our community to come together, especially with what’s going on right now around the world,” Burley said.
On the other hand, the SGA President let the viewers know that the homecoming committee does have a plan laid out just in case the committee gets the approval to have an in-person homecoming at the last minute.
Further, the SGA President said that on August 5, SGA, TSU’s University Program Council (UPC) and Peer Assistance, Leadership & Service (PALS) will hold a meeting with TSU’s administration; so, she encouraged students to send their questions to her.
Plus, she noted that students will not have to email Corona@TSU.edu regarding COVID related information, instead; she requested that students send their questions to either her, the SGA social media accounts, UPC President Jayla Fields, or the TSU Royal Court social media accounts
Burley said that on August 13-18, TSU will have COVID-19 testing on campus, whom she credits her cabinet members Terry and Colter for coming up with the proposed idea.
She also proposed to Dr. Mckinney and Assistant Dean of Students Services, Birtenna E. Bennett, to order 10,000, plus filtered masks that will have different designs.
She also provided key information on how the university will respond if a residential, international, or student with a rough living situation test positive for the coronavirus.
“If a residential student catches COVID-19, they must provide documentation that proves that the student tested negative to move back on campus,” Burley said. “If an international student or those who have a struggling home life test positive, the university will provide the option to quarantine at the LaNier.”
Though skeptical about the decision to have students quarantine in a dormitory, Burley wants to make sure that her students are safe and taken care of if a situations like this arises.
“My question to administration was, ‘Who will you guys pay to make sure that the students are safe?’ Because now you’re putting more people at risk in a controlled area,” Burley said. “It scares me a bit because I don’t want the possibility of something happening with a student because we were too careless with logistics.”
With information changing constantly due to the coronavirus, Burley wants to make sure that her students are kept in the loop on new information.
“For the past three months, the communication has been vague, especially coming from the top and there have also been conversations where my cabinet and I were left out of,” Burley said. “I would appreciate it if TSU would include the students along with my cabinet and I in these conversations and decisions that are being made.”
Below, are important contacts and resources for students if they have a question regarding TSU.
SGA President Khaniya Burley
Below is the Instagram live discussion: