A special guest came to last week’s Undergraduate Student Government senate meeting to talk about, and perhaps clarify, recent changes at The University of Akron.
The guest was John Messina, associate vice president of student affairs, who was also one of the panelists at USG’s Sept. 10 Town Hall meeting in the Student Union Starbucks. He began his speech before the senate by explaining a bit about his position and what his role is at the university.
“My role is to oversee all things that are considered student concerns: organizations, activities, conduct…investigations, community outreach, educational efforts,” and more, Messina said, adding that he works closely with those who oversee the Akron experience class, new roo weekend, new student orientation, peer mentoring programs, and learning communities.
The first question came from USG’s Chief Justice Garrett Scherba, who asked for Messina’s opinion on last week’s Town Hall meeting featuring President Scott Scarborough.
“In my opinion, I think the event went very well,” Messina said. “What I don’t know—and this might be a large generational gap—is how we [get more students to attend].” He warned that, however it happens, students must be sure they are getting “useful” information as opposed to “tons of information”—a drawback of the bombardment of digital technology.
Messina said he doesn’t think students are apathetic, but that they are overwhelmed.
A USG senator then asked about the well-known name-change topic, saying he is graduating in December and is wondering how much faith he can put in Scarborough’s declaration that UA’s name will not change.
“Well, I’m an alum, and I printed out the documents that said ‘We are not changing the name of The University of Akron. Period,’” Messina said, adding that he is happy the name will remain, but not without some reservations: “We can never say never. In the short term—10 years at least—there’s a document that says we’re not changing the name…to the best of my knowledge, we will be The University of Akron.”
Then a question came about—regarding the cuts to the Office of Multicultural Development—the University’s commitment to “inclusive excellence,” which Messina first deferred as a question only Scarborough could answer, before giving his own response.
“I think we are redefining how we approach inclusive excellence on this campus,” Messina said, “and if you’re asking me my opinion [as to if we are committed], my answer is yes.”
Messina has already spoken to the senate this semester, but it was before all the new members of USG were sworn in. He said he plans on returning to this week’s senate meeting on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. in the Student Union room 312.