In the first few weeks of her acclimation to the University of Wisconsin campus and new job as the dean of students in October, Luoluo Hong was confronted with challenging situations ranging from the State Street Halloween riots, the sudden death of a student from meningitis, and controversy over the Associated Students of Madison’s proposed Shadow Day.
“I think people were checking to see if I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, all hell has broken loose here,'” Hong said.
Unfazed by the immediate challenges, Hong said she has worked hard to understand the complex issues facing a diverse student body. Calling her arrival a “good chance to take a snapshot of the campus,” Hong identified clarification of the dean of students role in the campus as her main goal for the coming semester.
So what’s next?
Beginning with a revised mission statement, Hong said she hopes to answer the question, “Who are we and what are we about?” for students.
Meeting with more student groups and continuing to learn about the nature of students’ concerns will be top priority, Hong said.
“We’re very lucky to have someone who truly values student input,” said ASM member Jen Epps, who has worked with Hong to reinstate Shadow Day.
“She’s an amazing, vibrant woman; I’ve seen her reach out to every student organization and let them know she’s there to support them.”
Creating a campus climate where students can freely dialogue is another of Hong’s goals.
“How do we create environments in which students can disagree and still hear each other?” Hong said.
Some concrete issues Hong looks to tackle include strengthening student forums for speech, like the Speak-Out program; supporting Shadow Day as an outreach effort; and ensuring the availability of university-sponsored programming as an alternative to student partying.