More than a dozen USM Gulf Park Campus students took turns asking President Dr. Rodney Bennett questions Tuesday. One on their main concerns was why do Gulf Park students pay the same tuition Hattiesburg students pay? To answer that question, a break down of the tuition was presented to the students showing them where their money goes.
"We tell people what we can do and what we can deliver and we tell them what we can't deliver on," Dr. Bennett said. "The reality is I'm very concerned with the cost of attendance for our students."
Dr. Bennett was also asked by students to visit the Long Beach campus more, to get the university to offer more required classes at the Gulf Park Campus, and for new amenities such as a health center.
"Their goals are my goals," Dr. Bennett said. "What they want I want. It's a mater of patience, it's a matter of having honest transparent conversation, then it's about producing results and going out and making it happen."
"I think there is definitely a step in the right direction," USM student Melanie Mcleod said. "Now I know it's not going to be a quick fix, like he mentioned, but a lot of time and effort. If it goes like it did today, even if he comes down to have a brunch with Bennett like someone mentioned and talked to the students, that would make a world of difference."
Students left the meeting optimistic their concerns will be addressed.
"I'm confident for progress," student Crystal Stinson said. "I love our dialogue. I like the president's sincerity and his efforts to make this a better campus for everyone, not just for the students, we look for the community, as well."
"When we are allowed to have our freedom of voice and also for him to respond, I think it's very productive and very positive," Southern Miss SGA President LaQuita Gresham said. "And we are looking forward to seeing more transparent conversations like this in the future and to really see USM go to the top."
President Bennett also stressed in the forum that these discussions are not a signal of a problem. He said it's actually what will make the university greater: having students engaged in their education.
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