SGA Town Hall Facilitates Conversation with President Brian W. Casey

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With Colgate entering its third century, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a town hall meeting with President Brian. W. Casey on Oct. 30 to discuss The Third-Century Plan and the future of the University.

“Most institutions don’t have a moment in which students and administration can talk about the future of the institution,” Casey said. “I made roughly this presentation at the beginning of the year with the SGA, and they thought, ‘Why don’t we share this with the entire student body?’”

Just a day before, the University launched an investigation into racist language found on a whiteboard in a residence hall. Casey acknowledged the incident at the outset of his presentation, using it as a call to action. “Say to yourselves, ‘If we achieve everything The Third-Century Plan seeks to achieve, would we be better than we were this morning?’ If the answer is yes, let’s do the plan.”

There are four fundamental components to The Third-Century Plan, Casey explained. These include attracting and supporting outstanding students and faculty; strengthening the academic enterprise; enriching the student experience; and improving the campus environs. The plan offers a focused, long-term look at the aims of the University and its application of resources.

Casey highlighted the implementation of Colgate’s No-Loan Initiative. He described the policy as the first step in supplying more financial aid for students, connecting to the University’s commitment to widening its applicant pool.

Two new major academic initiatives are arriving on campus, Casey noted. The Robert Hung Ngai Ho Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative will promote interdisciplinary excellence and fortify research on cognition and culture. Meanwhile, the Middle Campus Initiative promises a significant change to the heart of campus, revitalizing locations currently marked by parking lots and insufficient public spaces.

By sustaining and improving campus beauty and infrastructure, Casey explained, the University can design spaces for students to come together as well as house a hub dedicated to the arts. “Let’s create a place in the middle of campus for thinking, creativity, and innovation,” he said. “There will be a location for film and media studies, dance, music, museums, Africana and Latin American Studies, and Native American Studies.”

Casey discussed the role of Colgate-owned buildings on Broad Street in enhancing student experience. “How do we create a community on Broad Street where everyone feels safe, where everyone belongs?” he asked. “This is an incredibly complicated, necessary conversation for this University. It will take time.”

SGA co-presidents Kate Bundy ’20 and Christian Johns ’20 and co-vice presidents JJ Citron ’20 and Ayah Elarabi ’20 then joined Casey on stage to pose crowdsourced questions pertaining to campus accessibility, equity, international student life, multicultural Greek life, and the arts. 

Johns noted the value of student involvement with The Third-Century Plan. “The plan features a significant portion on student life, so it was important to SGA that it was discussed,” he said. “Town halls provide an intimate space for conversation and transparency, and President Casey was a major supporter of the idea from the start.”