President Joe Bertolino hosts Q&A with students


Hunter LyleReporter

Alexandra ScicchitanoReporter

Students were given the opportunity to ask President Joe Bertolino questions at an open question and answer forum last Tuesday.

“I’m just here to answer any questions you might have. I have no agenda whatsoever,” said Bertolino. “This is really just an open- ended Q and A,”.

Reaunna Bartell, a junior, and mathematics major, said she came to the meeting so she could ask questions and express her concerns about a reported incident near Schwartz Hall that occurred over the weekend.

“I wanted to ask about our safety concern about what happened near Schwartz,” said Bartell. Bertolino said to Bartell if there was something to worry about, university Police Chief Joseph Dooley, would have sent out a notice to all students.

“Normally, if there is something you need be worried about or alerted to,” said Bertolino, “Chief Dooley would send a communication, giving a heads-up.”

Senior, and recreation major, Kendall Manderville, posed a question to Bertolino, asking about social justice on campus and how to expand our initiatives out to the New Haven community.

“It’s interesting, because the work that we’re doing with the community, I think primarily, focuses on teacher education right now,” said Bertolino. “And, our recruitment and our attempt at helping the city to recruit minority teachers, so that they
can be trained here and then placed back into the classroom in New Haven and throughout the state.”

Bertolino said any engagement with the community reflects the university’s commitment to social justice.

“We are actually doing it this year,” said Bertolino. “We have created a series of outreach opportunities where we have faculty and students going into elementary schools, middle schools and high schools throughout the city to essentially engage students, inspiring to get a college education.”

The more Southern is out and about, the better, said Bertolino.

“I think we have a moral obligation to ensure that the children in this community aspire to higher education,” said Bertolino. “That isn’t the case right now in New Haven. The access to opportunity is probably the most important.”

Bertolino said the university is undergoing some construction projects, the largest being the Barack H. Obama Magnet University School, which is a New Haven school being built on campus. Bertolino said students will have an opportunity to obtain hands-on education experience at the school,

Another construction project that will be starting soon is the School of Health and Human Services.

Bertolino said, “We are in the stages of hopefully breaking ground,” on the school.

Anonymous questions were written on pieces of paper by attendees of the meeting. Two of these questions concerned a new owl statue and a new Otus the Owl mascot costume

Bertolino said they are still in the process of deciding where to place the new owl statue.

“So, whenever you put anything around here, you have to be careful,” said Bertolino. “You don’t know what’s under the ground, so I think they’re trying to navigate that.”

The statue is planned to be unveiled at the 125th anniversary, he said.

The current mascot costume is not easy to wear and the university will now have two, he said. SGA and athletics will each have their own.

Manderville said he is involved on campus throughout, and he came to the open forum because he believes it is time for change.

“At this point in time, Southern, I think it’s the time for change and I feel like we should take the opportunity to take what we think we need.”

Photo Credit: Hunter Lyle

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