Southern students Rally and Sit-in to keep Chancellor

Southern University’s Royal Cotillion Ballroom was packed with students, public officials, faculty and staff who stood united to express their support for their chancellor, James Llorens, Monday, February 10th

February 7th, Southern University’s System President Ronald Mason recommended that Chancellor James Llorens’ contract would be extended for one year under the circumstances that the system would work closely with the chancellor in revamping campus leadership. Llorens, who disapproved the terms was voted out by Southern’s board of Supervisors 9-6, not to renew his contract that expires June 30.

The Southern University student body, outraged with the news, flooded social media sites demanding answers. Student Government Association President and board member Simone Bray organized a rally to clarify any concerns the public may have in regards of the Board’s decision.

The rally granted the public to hear from board members, faculty, staff, Chancellor Llorens and System President Ronald Mason and to ask questions.

Chancellor James Llorens address the crowd at the rally concering his tenure ending June 30th.- photo by Briana Brownlee

Chancellor Llorens was welcomed by a standing ovation from the crowd. “I am overwhelmed with the support I see here tonight.” Said Chancellor Llorens. “This University is going to survive, this University will be here, no institution relies solely on one individual’s shoulders”. In an attempt to ease the tension from the crowd, geared towards President Mason, Chancellor Llorens expressed how he gets along with the president and respects his right to present his recommendation.

Public officials, Board members, and faculty took turns expressing their support for Chancellor Llorens. Each speaker noted how impressive the student body’s attendance was and urged them to continue the fight by voicing their opinions of the board members.

“I like the President Mason, but I love Chancellor Llorens” said Representative and Southern Alumnus Ted James, whose comment aroused a roar of cheers from the crowd. James ended his speech by outing Governor Bobby Jindal’s telephone number and challenging students to flood his phone lines and voice their dissatisfaction of the board me members he appointed.

President Mason was questioned if he was adopting the Louisiana State University’s model, where the president is more active in decisions on campus. Mason denied the allegations, stating that he prefers to run The Southern University System opposite of The Louisiana State University System.

Southern’s seems as if it is on an upward path with enrollment increasing and majority of the athletics dominating the SWAC.

“Why now?” Quesstioned former Student Government Association President Willoe McCorkle. “In 1814 we moved here on the bluff of the Mississippi River, now 100 years later we have to deal with this?” McCorkle went on to ask why the members who voted against Llorens were not present.

The crowd continued to grill Mason with questions such as changing the language and length of the contract to keep Chancellpr Llorens at Southern. Mason simply stated he has no authority to change the contract and his job is not to make popular decisions but to do what he believes is best for the institution.

Following the rally held Monday nearly 40 students staged a sit-in outside of System President Ron Mason’s office in an effort to keep Llorens their campus chancellor on Tuesday , Febuary 12th. 

In spite of Mason telling students , at the rally, that his job to make a recommendation and that his role is done; the students still staged the sit-in outside his office until with the goal of Mason inviting them into his office to discuss on Llorens future with the university.

Bray , also a board member, requested a special meeting of the board of supervisors to re-open the discussion of Llorens’ contract.

Four other members joined Bray, which met the minimum requirements to hold a special board meeting. Chairwoman Bridget Dinvautannounced , at the sit-in, that a special meeting will take place once she determines a suitable time and date for board members to meet.

Board member Calvin Braxton said , at the student rally , he would recommend that the board approve a new three-year contract for Llorens.