SGA hosts State of the Student Body forum

President Penelope W. Kyle and SGA President Colby Bender talk with students during the State of the Student Body forum on Oct. 13 in the Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium.

Students joined President Penelope W. Kyle, Student Government Association President Colby Bender and university administrators on Oct. 13 for a State of the Student Body forum.

Held in the Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium, the event was an opportunity for participants to hear university updates as well as ask questions important to them. The forum was the third of its kind held at Radford University in the past year as part of ongoing opportunities for students to discuss topics of concern with the president.

When asked what issues she will focus on before retiring as president next year, Kyle said one issue that she will continue to advocate for is sexual assault awareness.

"I'd like to make sure that we have good processes in place before I leave, and that our students, faculty and staff feel like they know what to do if something unexpected happens," she said.

Kyle discussed her role on the Governor's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence, to which she was appointed last fall by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. She has called the experience "eye-opening," and as a result, a sexual violence task force has organized on Radford's campus.

In addition, Kyle promoted an upcoming campus event called Fear to Freedom at which students, faculty and staff will pack clothing for survivors of sexual assault and deliver the packages to area health care facilities. After survivors are examined at the hospital, their clothing is collected as evidence, Kyle explained. Oftentimes, they are sent home in disposable scrubs. Through the Fear to Freedom effort, survivors will have peace of mind knowing they have clothes in which to leave the hospital.

Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance and Administration Richard Alvarez addressed student parking concerns, explaining that parking utilization studies are routinely conducted and that construction of a parking garage is cost prohibitive and would result in substantially increased parking fees to pay for such a garage. He also reported that the purchase of parking passes has declined and that students are taking advantage of Radford Transit routes.

Regarding campus safety, the LiveSafe app, introduced to Radford University this year, has proved an important safety tool, Bender said.

The app includes a SafeWalk feature that enables friends or family to virtually walk a student to his or her destination. Students who need a reliable vehicle escort can request a ride from the Radford University Police Department through the app's SafeRide feature.

Radford University Chief of Police Colleen Roberts, who attended the forum, said LiveSafe played an important role in a recent incident, in which a comment that was disconcerting to many on campus was posted to the social media site Yik Yak. Many students alerted the RUPD to the comment through the app, and officers quickly began an investigation into the matter.

Chief Roberts thanked the student body for their quick response.

"It was a great example of the students and the university police working together and ensuring that our community is safe," Roberts said.

President Kyle added that "we can never have too much information" when it relates to the safety of the campus community.

Also among the topics discussed were services for student-veterans and university recruitment of underrepresented students.

Kyle urged student-veterans in attendance to inform her and other administrators of their needs.

"We are here for you, and we know how important you are to all of us at the university," Kyle said.

Kyle reported that the university is working to attract more diverse students, which in turn would result in a richer, more diverse educational experience for all students and better prepares Radford University for the global marketplace.

In conclusion, Kyle said she will continue to be available for such conversations, as they are an "important resource for the student body," she said.

For more information on the SGA and upcoming forums, visit the SGA homepage.

Oct 16, 2015