Dr. William A. Meehan:
Volunteers Will Serve Students with a Smile
By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - The Jacksonville News
Final exams for Jacksonville State University students began
yesterday in the early evening of a day without classes for academic
The students have endearingly termed the Tuesday before full days of finals
commence “Dead Day.” However, this title is really quite a contradiction in
terms because although there are no regular classes scheduled, Dead Day is the
one day students have to prepare for the exams that await them. Our hope is that
students take this day devoid of classes each semester to revive and refresh
themselves before the rigors of testing.
In attempt to release a little stress and provide a communal place offering
food and fellowship for students studying for finals, the Student Government
Association (SGA) is sponsoring the annual “Midnight Snack and Karaoke in the
Café” from 10:00 p.m.-midnight tonight at Jack Hopper Dining Hall. For some
students it is a midnight snack that will aide in a restful nights sleep, but
for many the meal serves as fuel by which to study.
“We enjoy doing this event because it brings the entire campus together for
one night and gives a chance for the faculty and staff to fellowship with the
students outside of the classroom,” says Brittney Cunningham in her last days as
the SGA vice president of student activities. “It’s a good time and takes away
Keeping with a long-standing tradition, the students will enjoy a late night
breakfast served by the faculty and staff of the university. I am usually
flipping out waffles with a JSU emblem in the center, a skill perfected over the
years. But this year I will be flipping pages of the NCAA regulations
representing JSU and the OVC at the Presidential Advisory Group from Division I.
During the two-hour event, patrons are also entertained by the brave souls
who volunteer to show off some talent singing karaoke. Some of the students
signing up to sing are in the JSU’s extraordinary music department, making a few
of the vocal acts surprising for a karaoke event. No matter whether each person
hits the exact pitch or not, the time together to relax and have a little fun
strikes a wonderful chord for the evening. Hopper Hall is full of vitality the
day after Dead Day.
The aspect of the staff and faculty serving the students is an important
component of tonight’s event. It is not often or everywhere you find professors
willing to step down from their podiums or staff willing to go beyond regular
job duties and reach out to serve college students. At JSU, we value the
students as our clients, we teach them as their educators, and we support them
as their staff.
Director of Instructional Media Services Tony Gravette has worked the past
three years at “Midnight Snack” and before that he attended the event as a JSU
student; his service runs full circle. “Every time I have a chance to get
involved with the students, I jump at the chance,” says Gravette. He goes on to
say the evening provides an informal and relaxed atmosphere for the students to
have contact with their administration.
I have had the opportunity to work alongside Mr. Gravette while manning the
waffle makers. The informal atmosphere provides a wonderful setting for faculty
and staff to take off their coats, tie on aprons and enjoy time with each other
outside of boardrooms and meetings while serving our students.
Mr. Gravette had a good chuckle one year when his student stopped by to greet
him and asked me who I was. This instance served as a reminder to remain an open
and accessible leader for the campus, ready to pitch in pouring waffles or
whatever else is needed to serve the community. Good service requires a great
Dr. Rodney Friery, a professor in the sociology department and a diligent
“Midnight Snack” worker says, “It’s something we can do for the students right
before finals crank up in a light setting; it’s also my way of thanking [the SGA
officers].” I do not recall a year Dr. Friery has not served his students at
Whether the students are aware of it or not, they are on the receiving end of
a generous act of kindness from their faculty and staff tonight. Including Mr.
Gravette and Dr. Friery, there are a number of excellent volunteers working the
event, dishing out service with a smile.
Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and
Communications, contributed to this article.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com
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