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Kimberly Monroe. (Special to the American Press)

Kimberly Monroe. (Special to the American Press)

Lake Charles native finds herself at center of Grambling story

Last Modified: Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:20 AM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Lake Charles native Kimberly Monroe has found herself in the news, rather than covering it, over the past few weeks.

Monroe, a graduate student at Grambling State University, is an opinion writer for the student newspaper, The Gramblinite. She was suspended from, then reinstated to, her post on paper’s staff after organizing a student rally.

The rally received national attention when football player Naquan Smith spoke about the team’s refusal to play a game at Jackson State last weekend due to concerns over team facilities, travel arrangements, equipment and the coaching staff.

Monroe said she organized the rally to address concerns she and other students had about academics. Smith asked to speak shortly before the rally was held.

“With the budget cuts, teachers are required to teach more classes; there are classroom overloads. We want teachers to try workshops, more innovative ways to teach classes,” she said. “We are trying to focus on academics and issues with facilities because there are problems with nearly every building on campus — some minor, some extreme.”

Monroe said the rally, held after she consulted the Student Government Association, was attended by members of the school administration, including the dean of students, and was civil.

“We just spoke, told students we need more pride on campus, need to be more focused on academics,” she said. “Students can be more accountable by attending class, voicing their concerns on what it will take for them to succeed at this university or if they are being properly trained and prepared for the real world and life after college.”

She said Dean of Students Rusty Ponton told those at the rally that school administrators are doing their best and would work to address students’ concerns. The football team’s boycott has drawn more attention, but Monroe said it helped provide a platform for her concerns.

“When the football team went on strike, that was something big. I am sure students at other schools complain about the same things we did,” she said. “When it happened to the football team, it may have overshadowed academics, but we used that as an opportunity to voice other concerns as well.”

She said being in the news is strange, but that she is using it as a learning opportunity. Monroe, a 2006 graduate of Lake Charles-Boston, earned an undergraduate degree in history from Grambling and is a second-year graduate student in mass communication. She was briefly suspended for taking part in the rally last week.

“I got a letter from my adviser Friday at 3 p.m. saying I was suspended,” she said. “The letter said I had violated the code of ethics of The Gramblinite for participating in the rally. The dean called me into a meeting Monday and said I was reinstated.”

Monroe has not returned to the paper and said she is unsure if she will.

“I had a lot of support from student leaders on campus, a lot of people said (the suspension) wasn’t right,” she said.

“I just hope with the football team and everything, we as a university start feeling more accountable for the things we say we are going to do — from the administration to the students, even to prospective students. I want everyone to be accountable for promises they make.”

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