Trauth opens doors again for spring semester

Assistant News Editor

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H.E.A.T. representatives discuss their ‘No home for Styrofoam’ initiative before meeting with President Denise Trauth Feb. 18 at the Open Door session.

More Texas State students attended this semester’s Open Door session with President Denise Trauth Tuesday than in the past.

The first session of the semester was held in the LBJ Student Center, with 12 students in attendance as opposed to the nine that attended last spring semester. They were able to speak with Trauth and Joanne Smith, vice president of Student Affairs. The students were allowed 15-minute sessions of one-on-one time to voice their issues with Trauth and Smith in a private meeting room.

“It was interesting,” Trauth said. “At least half of the students came asking for advice.”

Students asked her how to set goals and overcome adversity.

“Several of the students were first generation college students, and they were asking these kinds of questions in that context of ‘how can I, as a first generation college student, set goals for success in college?’ for example,” Trauth said.

Efrain Balderas, undeclared sophomore, said he came to speak with Trauth about accommodations for first generation students after experiencing a difficult first semester.

Balerdas said his first semester was hard because his parents could not relate to his experience, and he asked Trauth how the university helps first generation students. Trauth directed Balderas to organizations for first generation students and gave him advice on how to stay motivated in school.

Trauth said she learns things from students through the sessions, so it is mutually beneficial. One thing she learned about first generation college students is that a sense of isolation remains among these students, even though about 40 percent of students are first generation and the university has an organization for them.

That issue is something the university “needs to work at” to get the word out that these students are not alone, Trauth said.
Some students attending the session brought forward issues concerning sustainability and the environment.

Three members of H.E.A.T. (Human, Environmental, Animal Team) attended the open door session to discuss a project called “No home for Styrofoam” with Trauth.

The environmental group hopes to advance sustainability on campus by introducing more “ecologically friendly and compostable materials” in dining halls instead of harmful materials like Styrofoam which contain chemicals and do not decompose, said Colin Iliff, environmental studies junior and H.E.A.T. subcommittee leader.

“We’re here to talk to Dr. Trauth about basically what channels we can go through to get this project done, what people we can talk to, if we can work directly with the president and the upper management at the university as well,” Iliff said.

Trauth told the group they should speak with the university’s Food Service Committee—which is in charge of recycling, the food staff and contracting with Chartwells—to help with their project, Iliff said.

Andreina Alexatos, applied geography graduate student, spoke with Trauth about the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and asked when it will be implemented, Trauth said.
Alexatos asked if the construction on campus addresses the runoff water pollution, and if there are stormwater management areas that could be put in place.

Alexatos said Trauth was professional and addressed her issues by referring most of her questions concerning construction and pollution to Bill Nance, vice president for Finance and Support Services.

“(Trauth) seemed to be unaware of a lot of these things, and understandably so, because she has a lot on her plate so she has to delegate issues,” Alexatos said. “So she just kind of gave me a venue to go ask the person that would know more information about it.”

Many of the students in attendance did not know where to go to have their issues addressed or what their resources are, Smith said.

The two officials told students whom to contact to find more information on how to address various issues, Smith said.

“I don’t think they expect the president to answer every question about every single issue, but they do like to get direction,” Trauth said. “And a lot of what we did today involved that.”