LSU Student Government released the first episode of its docuseries, “Common Ground,” on Friday, in which six students with different backgrounds freely discussed inclusivity issues at the University.
Kinesiology junior Alexandra Quintana, who is a member of SG and the University Student Leadership Cabinet, spearheaded the film with the intention to give students a platform to express their concerns and increase communication between groups.
“There’s a lot of students on this campus, and sometimes, there are people who have issues and they never feel comfortable or know who to go to [for help],” Quintana said.
Quintana said she hopes administrators will see “Common Ground” and take note of students’ concerns, but she made sure that administrators did not take control of the film’s production. She stressed the importance of student leaders like herself being able to directly engage with and learn from other students
“It’s for the students, by students,” Quintana said.
Topics students primarily discussed were the challenge to find a niche at the University and subpar student facilities.
Biological sciences junior Hailey Simpson from Kentucky participated in the film and said although she got involved with campus organizations as a freshman, other out-of-state students struggle to find a community on campus. She was surprised that none of the students agreed that LSU is an inclusive university, and she felt enlightened by listening to other students’ experiences.
“I thought it was really cool to get to interact with people who are different from me and have different majors, different backgrounds [and] different ethnicities,” Simpson said.
Sports administration junior Maia Grisafi said she personally does not have a community on campus outside of her friend group, which caused her depression and anxiety to peak last semester. When she tried to seek help at the University, she felt like her problems where not a priority until her situation became dire.
Grisafi said the most difficult thing for her to talk about was how the University does not prioritize its mental health service, and she said it needs to be addressed.
Grisafi said that it was initially tough for her to open up about her struggles, but she hopes that “Common Ground” viewers can hear her testimony and feel inspired to also speak out about their issues.
“It helped me be okay talking about [mental health],” Grisafi said.
She said that the film was an invitation for students to speak their minds, and it may wake up the LSU community to issues on campus
Students were selected to participate by first filling out a survey about their experiences at LSU, and students with different experiences were deliberately chosen. They were asked a series of questions by “Common Ground” moderator and SG president Stewart Lockett, who said the film was emotional and intense.
Quintana said the film was a project that other campuses have not taken on, so a lot of trial and error was involved in its planning and production. Five students comprised the core group that created the film. They plan to make three other episodes this semester.
Viewers are encouraged to fill out a survey regarding the film, how it can be improved and what the focus of other episodes should be.
The links to the survey is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScbwNbrEYPtPJgP8b0VBacVv6Jy-aabjNC6wNVZMKrbpU1r9g/viewform.