By Claire Moncla
“It is your time; it is your place,” President Ken Starr told Baylor students on Wednesday September 15 during the Student Dinner with the President. At 7 p.m., students lined up for Vitek’s catering outside the Bill Daniel Student Center and then sprawled out on the grass and sat on stone benches in the Vara Martin Daniel Plaza to hear Starr speak.
The dinner marked the first day of inaugural festivities for the fourteenth Baylor president. Baylor Student Government organized a short program involving a step performance, a musical performance, and student speeches to welcome Starr. After a warm reception, the new president gave his own speech, complimenting the Lariat, thanking Student Government, and asking for student input in university decisions.
Starr also highlighted the President’s Scholarship Initiative, the first fundraising priority announced by Starr, which has already raised $7 million. “This initiative idea came from the students,” Starr said looking out into the crowd. “I salute you.” At the end of the short program, student organizations presented Starr with gifts, one of which was a piece of the original Waco Hall floor given by Student Body President Michael Wright.
During the dinner, students stood in line to speak with Starr, presenting him with ideas, suggestions, and words of encouragement. “Ken Starr is trying to get more involved in students’ lives,” said the 2010 Permanent Class President Kathy Wilson. “You can actually come up and talk to him and see who’s running the school.”
Wilson said the dinner was a really good idea because it brought students together. “I saw people from Chamber, StuFu, Asian Student Association, the theater department, and Brooks Residence Hall,” she said.
Delta Sigma Theta senior Maria Gaston, who participated in the step performance, said she thought the event had been a success. “It was a little warm,” she said with a laugh, “but I think it went well.”
Gaston was especially impressed by Starr’s enthusiasm. “He was eager to interact one-on-one with students,” she said. She hopes this enthusiasm extends to communication among university groups. “I think relationships should be increased between the administration and students,” Gaston explained.
Wilson also hopes Starr’s presidency will have a positive impact on Baylor. She said she agrees with his push for attendance at Baylor sporting events and lowering of tuition costs through raising scholarships. Wilson said she would also like to see some changes. “I think we could have more emphasis on the Student Senate,” she said. “If we could get more advertising about that, students could talk to the Senate about what they want to have changed.”
Wilson looks forward to more events that allow students to interact with the fourteenth president. “They need to see who’s in charge of the school,” she said.