Lake Charles native finds herself at center of Grambling story

By 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.”