By: Stephanie Huynh and Andrew Bryant
On Friday, February 3, 2023, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a charming “Brunch with Bonner” event in the Student Center Terrace. The Student Affairs Committee of the SGA wanted this event for students to speak to President Jo Bonner on a level playing field. Attendees heard from various chairmen and representatives from numerous campus organizations.
As you may already know, an effective way to draw in the average college student is with free food. Hot pancakes and syrup were on the menu, along with potatoes, bacon, and sausage. Student Affairs Committee Chair Anita Nguyen decided that “serving brunch food would serve as a delightful way for students to sit in as they listen in on our President’s stories, tales, and discussion.”
In addition to telling students about his life experiences that eased him away from shyness and how the Dew Drop Inn has the best hot dogs in town, President Bonner went into a bit more detail regarding the Bonner buses, plans for renovation, and future growth.
President Bonner’s favorite memory with the Bonner Buses couldn’t be pinpointed because he enjoys meeting all potential Jaguars equally. In case you aren’t aware of what Bonner buses are, it is part of a new recruiting effort that entails picking up students from their high schools and bringing them to campus for a tour.
“We take the new athletic buses when they aren’t in use for transporting the student-athletes to pick high school students up,” said President Bonner. “We visit about 32 high schools with the new buses and invite juniors and seniors to see the campus.”
Campus improvement is another hot topic at South. The buildings on South’s campus vary in complexity and aesthetics, and one student inquired about plans to renovate the Humanities building. In response, President Bonner said that “[he and his team] are going to look into every possible opportunity.”
According to President Bonner, “South has invested over 400 million dollars in the past few years to create and renovate current residence halls, and we don’t want to use tuition from students to pay for renovation projects.”
Furthermore, when asked about his thoughts about South Alabama being the “flagship of the Gulf Coast,” President Bonner said, “South is the only engineering school in 250 miles, one of two medical schools in the state, and has students from 63 countries and all 50 states.” To him, these feats make this university attractive to those who are searching for a place to continue their education.
“In May, we’re going to celebrate the 60th birthday of South Alabama,” said President Bonner. “I want to celebrate where we are, how far we’ve come, and in 5 years, all current students will – hopefully – be graduates. There will be an academic medical campus, and a new performing arts building and a donor has pledged 20 million dollars for a performing arts center along with a band facility. South is going to continue to grow.”
The Student Affairs Committee aims to provide the means for connection between students, faculty, and administration. “We had a wonderful turnout with all the students that attended, and the room was bustling with conversation and cheer,” said Nguyen. “We hope to make this an annual event that students can look forward to throughout the academic year, knowing that our President Jo Bonner is always happy to see and meet more of our students as well.”
If there is anything you would like to bring up to the Student Government Association, they exercise an open-door policy and can be found in the Student Center Suite 214, or they can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.