Southern Univ. Chancellor Faces Students for 'Review'
By Norman Dotson Jr. -- Black College Wire   

The Southern University Student Government Association invited Chancellor Kofi Lomotey to its first "chancellor review" on Feb. 11 to allow students to hear his views on topics ranging from budget cuts to fees for a live campus mascot.

“Students brought questions to me that I just don’t have the answers to, but [Lomotey] might have these answers,”  Senator Sabrina Whitney said, when asked why SGA decided tosponsor the event.

Norman Dotson Jr./Southern Digest
Chancellor Kofi Lomotey
“I was pleased to come and do this review,” Lomotey said.

“Communication is the key on the campus to dispel rumors and to answer any questions or address any concerns among the student body with detailed information.” He went on to say that, “I had planned to do these kinds of meetings periodically throughout the semester and the student senate has already agreed to doing more.”

The biggest concern of the night was funding. This semester has seen its share of faculty and budget cuts and Lomotey said things may get worse before they get better.

“If the legislature goes through with their second of two budget cutting scenarios, we would have to cut $15 million out of a $51 million budget and we just don’t have that in non-personnel. We would have to cut some faculty and staff as well as administration. We can’t cut tenured faculty but there are almost one hundred [faculty members] who are temporary and we would have to eliminate positions that are not filled. We are not expecting that big of a cut but it something that we are told to prepare for.”

Another controversial topic has been the LaCumba fee, since the death of the last live mascot in 2005.

“I feel it is inhumane to have any animal confined in such captivity on any campus, but that is not the thought of everyone,” he said, adding, “I was unaware that students were paying such a fee because there hasn’t presently been any talk of getting a jaguar and this matter will be looked into.”

When informed of money being raised prior to his arrival Lomotey said, “It was a fund raising attempt to duplicate what LSU had done and I don’t know what happened to it.”

The chancellor also answered questions that were submitted via e-mail.

Students wanted to know whether it was feasible for the university to reduce or eliminate the cost of campus dining for students living in the on-campus apartments or if construction of a commuter-parking garage would ever be built.

“That’s a difficult one to handle seeing that policy states that every student living on campus [is]required to pay into the meal plan because we have $800,000 of annual expenses in order to pay into food services and if the residence on campus don’t pay into the meal plan we would have to come up with the money from someplace else.

The chancellor went on to say discussions about the parking garage were taking place before he arrived, but there is some interest in building one. Of course, students can expect an increase in parking fees to cover the cost.

Lomotey dispelled lingering rumors about the elimination of summer school, the Human Jukebox Marching Band, which was recently disbanded because of hazing charges, and the music department.

“It was never up for discussion that we would not be having summer school or closing the music department, we plan to have summer school this year and hope that students will be able to apply for both the summer and fall simultaneously.

"Also, the band was not disbanded indefinitely, I believe they were only disbanded for less than a week by the director with intentions of encouraging the members of the band to recommitting themselves to a higher standard of behavior. The band is live and well.”

Norman Dotson Jr. writes for The Southern Digest, the Southern University student newspaper, which originally published a version of this article.

Posted Feb. 17, 2009