President Susan Schultz Huxman answered EMU students’ anonymous questions last Tuesday evening, Sept. 5, in Common Grounds during another episode of Student Life’s Questions After Dark. Students submitted their questions on slips of paper at the beginning, which Huxman then drew and answered at random throughout the evening.
Questions ranged from serious to silly, from “What do you think about sexual purity?” to “What changes do you hope to see at EMU this year?” to “If you were a dog and had to amputate one of your legs, which one would you choose?”
After much deliberation, Huxman decided she would sacrifice the back left leg.
While answering a question about racism at EMU, Huxman invited students to start a dialogue with her, encouraging student feedback, for this question and others like it, in order to make EMU a place where students feel like they belong. “You can call me, you can visit me, you can say, ‘Hey, you know what, I think maybe we could be doing more.’ It needs to be a dialogue,” Huxman said. “I don’t just have a megaphone to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re doing.’ So ‘help me’ is what I’m inviting you to do. Help me on that.”
Throughout the evening, Huxman connected with the student audience through humor and vulnerability. Regarding her greatest fear, Huxman first said she is afraid of spiders and horses. After the chuckling subsided, Huxman turned serious, saying that she fears choking on opportunities the most, or “looking back on my life and saying ‘I wish I would have done x, y, or z.’”
Senior Hannah Cash appreciated Huxman’s balance of serious and humorous responses. “What I like is that she’s able to turn everything into something funny. She answers questions seriously, but she also knows how to lighten it up so that students don’t feel overwhelmed by her answers,” Cash said after the event.
Cash also enjoyed the chance to see the president in a different light. “It was a personal connection, even though there were 20 people there. It didn’t feel cold,” Cash said. “It felt like she was there to talk to us one on one if she wanted.”
Cash’s observations are right in line with the goal of Scott Eyre, Lead Residence Director, who began the Questions After Dark series last year. With these events, Eyre intends to create a safe space for students to ask questions of people who are good at what they do, like Huxman.
However, these events are not just about the answers for Eyre, or just about the guest speakers. The questions in themselves can foster a sense of community. “When you hear someone else ask the same question you have, it builds a connection,” Eyre said.
Students will be able to ask more questions in the following Questions After Dark events throughout the year, with guests ranging from prison complex experts to — if he is not playing in the World Series at the time — EMU alumnus Erik Kratz.