Addressing Our Fears: A look at Campus Conversation


conversationKiara Morris, Staff Writer

In response to the Campus Climate survey, feedback has included a series of Campus Conversations hosted by the Provost and President’s offices. The Jan. 21 conversation focused on fear, violence and safety, and where students can get help.

The most buzzing questions dealt with safety regarding last Fall’s shooting incident which left many Pirates uneasy. Although there have been no updates in the investigation, the police department, SGA and president’s office moved quickly to implement better protocols for the future protection of the campus.

While Armstrong was busy making changes after the incident, the declining safety of the city of Savannah weighed heavy on the conversation. Dr. Maxine Bryant, SCMPD End Gun Violence project manager, shared what she is working on with Savannah’s Police Department.   

“I believe that persons who are either perpetrators of violence or who are their associates can be positively impacted by persons within their age group who made different choices. Student volunteers can learn to empathize with persons within their age group who have different life experiences and can feel a sense of accomplishment to have a helping role in perhaps turning someone’s life around,” said Bryant.

Junior Sociology major Tatjuana Phillips found the event helpful for students but suggests more interaction with the audience as opposed to the traditional question-and-answer format.

“I loved the text-in questions option. The idea allowed for the audience to ask questions comfortably. I do, however, think it could have been more of a conversation,with engagement from the audience” said Phillips.

University counseling director Dr. Jeanne McGowan offered insight from a psychological perspective, saying “students who are afraid of counselors or speaking to professors may want to consider more natural support systems such as family, a close trusted friend or even a religious figure.”

McGowan also added “Faculty and staff can take away a lot from this conversation around fear. From a mental health perspective, [we] will better understand the resources available to students and help students to connect with them. [We] will continue to carry on intentional conversations around this highly charged topic while [acknowledging that] the conversation may also create fear and anxiety.”

The student body really does have a lot to say about what goes on in their community. During the conversation, several students challenged the panel with controversial questions and addressed racial tensions. Students will get another chance to voice their concerns and opinions at the upcoming Master Plan open session on Feb. 2, 2016. The session begins at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.