A select group of incoming freshmen at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff heard advice from community and university officials ranging from relationships to safety Tuesday afternoon.
Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr. of the Sixth Division Circuit Court shared tips about personal safety, responsibility and education to about 170 students in the Learning Institute and Opportunities for New Students program.
“Remember you came to UAPB to get an education. Go to class and be on time,” Brown said. “If you are not here to get an education, you are in the wrong place. … You are here to get an education [but] not to be here for seven, eight, nine or 10 years.”
Brown said punctuality is a must because it is important in the workforce. When he was a law student, Brown said he was running late to class, drove too fast and caused a car accident. If he had given himself more time, he would have avoided this headache.
“Lateness can cost you a job,” he said. “When you are in the workforce, you must be on time.”
Brown advised the young adults to be aware of their surroundings, subscribe to The Commercial and read it every day, volunteer for a local agency, not steal or facilitate friends in stealing, not buy stolen or reduced-priced property, not be outside too late and to graduate from college in four years.
“I’ve had a subscription to the newspaper since I was 18 years old,” Brown said. “Know what is happening in your community.
“Employers want people who go above and beyond, not just someone who comes to work and goes home,” Brown said. “Do more than just go to class. Get involved. Volunteer with a faith-based group or civic group.”
Brown said people in dating relationships that end in a breakup should go their separate ways peacefully.
“If you put your hands on someone, that is a crime,” Brown said. “Police have zero tolerance for violence.”
In a similar vein, people who are in a dating relationship do not have a legal right to record private consensual activities, he said.
He warned against drugs and marijuana in particular.
“I do not care what is happening in Colorado or Washington (state); marijuana is illegal in Arkansas,” Brown said.
Brown applauded the young adults for enrolling at UAPB.
“In Arkansas, one in five people has a college degree,” Brown said. “You are part of an elite group.”
UAPB Chancellor Laurence Alexander greeted the students by asking to hear their Golden Lions Roar. Like Brown, he was once running late to class in law school, drove carelessly and crashed.
Alexander told the students to look to their classmates and vow to graduate in 2018.
Zerica Washington, 18, of Pine Bluff said she learned a host of useful information.
“Watch who you hang around, be careful where you park, stay on track, surround yourself with positive people,” said Washington, who intends to major in biology.
UAPB Police Chief Maxcie Thomas also spoke to the students about personal responsibility, safety, drugs and fighting. The university uses 239 security cameras in addition to its officers for security.
“We are responsible for your safety and we need your cooperation,” Thomas said. “If you see suspicious activity, give us a call.
“Marijuana is extremely illegal on the campus. We use K-9 dogs to find drugs.”
Campus police do not allow guns even if someone has a permit for a concealed carry, Thomas said.
“Try not to get in trouble,” Thomas said. “There is no fighting on campus.”
He advised students to sign up for text message alerts in cases of an emergency, be it security or a tornado.
Professor Carolyn Mills, the director of the LIONS program, said the program lasts for five weeks. The program is focused on education, including transitioning to college. The Walton Family Foundation gave a $200,000 matching grant over two years divided into $100,000 per year. UAPB is matching the grant by a ratio of four to one, she said.
“We have students from all over the country,” she said. “We have the full range of students: black white, and Hispanic. [LIONS] is open to every high school graduate who is admitted to UAPB.
“We want their social skills to be enhanced,” she said. “They will make friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Linda Okiror, associate vice chancellor in enrollment management and student success office, welcomed the students and implored them to embrace the opportunities.
“We want our students to make good decisions and to be safe and secure,” Okiror said. “We have promised their families to take care of them.”