Southern University running back Lenard Tillery transformed from an unheralded walk-on to one of the best backs in the SWAC.
Tillery, who has rushed for 3,191 yards and 32 touchdowns during his career, recently has been outspoken regarding some of the pressing issues facing Southern.
In an open letter published in the Baton Rouge-based The Rogue Collection, Tillery outlines several matters, including Southern and Louisiana politics which he called “one and the same,” lack of consistent student leadership — namely the Student Government Association and the Gateway Project initiative.
On politics and Southern student retention:
Southern University politics and Louisiana politics are one in the same. Many bills and legislations are being pushed through, to attract new tourists to the state, and in the case of Southern, to attract new students. What measures are being taken to retain students? What measures are being taken to ensure that residents of the state are happy?
On the Gateway Project:
The gateway project was first introduced in 2004. The senate of student leaders has voted in favor of this while the majority of students were unaware of the gateway project ever being discussed. “If you pass by Southern on Scenic highway you may not notice it at all. This new Gateway Entrance that has been selected by the students of the university will change that.” Southern University’s rich history is revered all over the nation and around the world.
Calling for student body to create substantive change:
It is time for students to stop assuming that the problems that we experience on a daily are noticed by the higher ups of our university. They are focused on the large-scale issues, we must bring to their attention the concerns of the student body. The only way to bring about change is to make it our initiative! We assume that the “higher ups” are knowledgeable of our issues.
On infrastructure concerns at Southern:
The campus looks bland and stuck in the 1900’s. The inside of the majority of buildings need repair and upkeep. Leaky roofs, moldy walls, sewage backup and broken sprinkler systems plague the buildings of our campus and it was reported that 21 of 140 buildings at Southern University have life safety code deficiencies. Elevators in every building are either slow and rickety, or just not working at all. The board review meetings have addressed these concerns and put thousands of dollars towards it, but nothing has been fixed. The living conditions at Southern University are also sub-par. Buildings such as Grandison and Reed are outdated and experience Ada compliance issues every semester. Flooding, bug infestation, dirty water from pipelines, ac/heating issues, and Wi-Fi connection are just a few problems that students on campus experience daily.
Tillery’s lengthy letter highlights the need for Southern to attract more students and urges for a no vote of the Gateway Project.
College athletes like Tillery are increasingly becoming more comfortable being candid about the varying challenges they, and students as a whole, often struggle with through their athletic or academic careers.