The Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF) Senate hosted its Fall 2023 Town Hall on Nov. 1 in McLaren Conference Center. The town hall was restructured this semester to give USF community members an opportunity to address their concerns in a small, group-oriented discussion, directly with an administrator, led by an ASUSF Senate appointed facilitator of the table.
Historically, town hall meetings were led by administrators and members of the Senate. They would consist of an hour-long presentation, conducted by administration, followed by student’s questions.
According to ASUSF Senate’s Vice President of Internal Affairs, Kiannah-Nicole Karani, who is also a sophomore environmental studies major, town halls “happen once a semester, but it’s the first truly student focused one.”
This semester’s town hall focused on food and housing. When students walked into McLaren, they were met with five tables placed throughout the room, each with a placard displaying the table’s designated topic. Students were then encouraged to sit at the table they felt most aligned with their concern. Senate facilitators led students and administration in a moderated discussion over the student’s concerns. Topics ranged from food quality of on-campus dining to housing accessibility.
Junior english major Sarah Badawi attended the town hall because of her struggle with finding off-campus housing. “I felt like the administration seated at the table were actively listening and taking notes,” said Badawi. “They gave examples of where to go and events to attend in case we wanted to know more or if we had any other issues.”
ASUSF Senate’s new town hall format is designed as a way to allow concerns to be vocalized and responded to, one-on-one with students and administration.
“I love it,” said Mariah Moore, a first-year English major and the Resident Hall Council President for Gillson Residence Hall. “I love that it’s an outlet for students to be heard and voice their concerns because I feel like there’s not enough avenues for students to do that besides the few surveys the University pushes out. I feel like that’s not enough. You need somewhere where students can physically go and voice their concerns. So I think this is great.”
Tori Broillard-Bruce, Senior Director for Student Housing, said, “I’ve really appreciated this switch into this format.” “The town hall forum style really creates a better suited, conversational, direct approach to talking about the key issues that we [in administration] need to take care of…Sometimes, we’re not doing what we need to do because we don’t know what we need to do.”
He encourages students to directly contact administrators, facility, or residence hall leaders regarding issues through email, phone, or by going to an administrator’s office, as they will get resolved in a more timely manner.
“Community is nothing more than unity through communication, and the more communication we can have, the more community we can have because we have that unity,” Brouillard-Bruce concluded.
The next town hall will be on Mar. 6, 2024, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., with topics and location TBD.