Dunn addresses sexual assault, tobacco ban at SA

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President Barry Dunn kicked off Monday night’s Students’ Association meeting with a welcome back greeting and announcements for the year in an open forum.

Dunn highlighted his pride in the South Dakota Board of Regents work to secure the Dakota Promise scholarship this summer. The process is ongoing, but Dunn said it’s “the number one priority for the regents.” The Dakota Promise is a scholarship for Pell Grant-eligible students, which make up about 25 percent of South Dakota State’s student body, Dunn said. 

After touching on construction updates, Dunn made strong statements condemning sexual assault in response to the first reported sexual assault of this year, which occurred the first week of classes. 

“Violence against women has no place on a campus I am going to be president of,” Dunn said.

He also touched on the recent events in Charlottesville, North Carolina, informing students “we will be having conversations on our campus this semester.” 

Finally, Dunn highlighted the campus climate survey and the tobacco-ban policy draft released campus-wide Monday. The draft is currently open for 30 days of public comment. 

“I get the different sides of this topic and I am sensitive to them,” Dunn said. “I am going to listen to everybody for 30 days. If you have feelings about it, email them and I will read them all.”

As for the campus climate survey, Dunn reported the lowest scoring issue with students, faculty and staff was trust in university administration.

“I’ve got work to do to regain your trust,” Dunn said.

Senators questioned Dunn on the university’s plans to continue attracting international students to campus, despite the travel ban and cultural minorities “left feeling vulnerable,” as Dunn said.

“We saw a big drop in students from India this year; we’ve got work to do,” Dunn said. “We want to work to make these students feel more welcome and comfortable here.”

The rest of SA’s meeting consisted of announcements around the room, notably from Vice President of Student Affairs Michaela Willis. She highlighted vision conferences being held this fall to finalize strategic planning goals for SDSU’s future, the planning of an upperclassman housing complex, a new food option coming to Hansen Hall in January and food trucks in The Bindle for Hobo Day.

The next SA meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Lewis and Clark room of The Union.