Meet the university’s new student body president …

The Birmingham, Alabama native is not only clear on his agenda, but he also knows that student government is much larger than himself


Lateef Oloko/Staff Photographer

Landon Hale is the new student body president for the 2023-24 academic year. He is a rehabilitation services major who plans to attend medical school after graduation. He is from the Magic City.

Staff Report, The Hornet Tribune

He stunned and simply blindsided a number of students when the Birmingham, Alabama native, who is 6’4, brown skin, and rather reserved, revealed himself as a member of the Gamma Sigma chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. But, by the time the campus could begin to digest his fraternal affiliation, just days later he was announced as the Alabama State University 2023-24 student body president.
What is even more interesting about the Ramsay International Baccaulaureate High School graduate, is that he maybe one of the youngest presidents ever elected by the student body.
Yes, Landon Hale, a sophomore rehabilitation services major, will serve as the “top dog” when it comes to student government, but the 20-year-old scholar admitted that Alabama State University is not a legacy university for his family.
“All of my family attended Miles College or Alabama A & M,” he said as he stared into the ceiling. “I have one sister who attended Alabama State for a year or two, and she actually left because she did not like it here.”
So what drove this young man with a family education legacy to Alabama State University?
He continued.
“I came to Alabama State strictly off of the physical therapy program. I was very interested in that program, but after attending Columbia University last summer, I realized that I really did not want to go into physical therapy, I really wanted to become a doctor of sports medicine/orthopedics.
Hale said the first time he set foot on campus was his move-in day.
“I never took any college trips to Alabama State before enrolling,” he said. “Me coming was really a leap of faith.”
Even though Hale has changed his career aspirations, he is firmly fixed on remaining a rehabilitation services major, despite it not being a traditional path to medicial school.
He explains.
“The reason why I selected rehabilitation services is because I am interested in that field. I like the classes and the topics that are required in that field. However, because I want to become a physician, I am still taking the prerequisite classes like chemistry so that I will be on track with what I need to enter medical school.”
Hale, who has five sisters, says that he was raised in a single-parent household by his mother, Lataria Hale, but he also has a relationship with his father, Larry Webster, who is a mathematics instructor in the Birmingham City School System.
Hale’s mother, who is employed by a hosptal in Birmingham, Alabama, is not the reason why he selected to go into medicine, but he does highly credit her and his grandmother for molding him into the man that he is today.
He describes himself as a very strong-minded individual, who is grateful for the support that he has received from those who helped him to achieve the goal of student body president.
“It’s an astounding feeling, and it is an exciting moment,” Hale said in a very soft voice. “I knew that it was a possibility that I would be the first SGA president to serve as a junior, but at the same time I am very grateful considering it has been so many people that helped me to get to the place where I am now.”
Hale feels he has accomplished many of the goals that he set out to do since arriving at the university.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said. “When I came in as a freshman intern in SGA, I sat down with the then treasurer, Jeremi Moore, on Aug. 11, 2021, and I had a sticky note in my hand. I wrote down everything that I wanted to do in terms of the organizations that I wanted to join and the activities that I wanted to participate in and when I got to SGA president, I put ‘times two’ on the side. I did know whether it would happen, but I did write it down. I accomplished half of that list during my freshman year.”
However, the goal-driven Hale admits that when it was time to run, he had to really sit down and think about the timing, the risk and the responsibilities associated with the position.
“A lot of times when people enter races, they enter with the mindset that they are going to win,” he said. “I did not go into this race with that mindset. I knew that there was a huge possibility that I could lose. However, that possibility is what made me work harder, because I knew that I could lose.”
Even though Hale has served on the student government election committee and served as chief of staff during his sophomore year, he knows that the pressure of operating as the student body president will be different.
“Honestly, handling the pressure of this office is something that I am kind of prepared for, especially since serving in the chief of staff position,” he said. “Coming into SGA as a freshman, I always kind of shadowed the people who were older than me who were in positions like Gem Richardson and Jeremi Moore and Dylan Stallworth. The people that I surrounded myself within the workplace and outside were older and they helped me to see how to SGA should operate. I learned that you can have your college experience, but that you represent something greater than yourself.”
Hale wants his other executive officers to keep the same momentum they had during campaign season to flow throughout the entire school year.
“I know that every president has probably said that, but actually seeing it and keeping it going is actually what will help us ultimately get student government to where I would like to see it,” he said. “I am looking at this year as one of rebranding.”
Balance has been a problem with students in the past that have served in those executive governmental positions. However, Hale said that he has already considered that issue and had reached a possible solution.
“So, something I kind of talked to the former student life director about is implementing study halls for the executive officers, much like the athletes,” he said. “These study halls will help us to achieve balance and to ensure that we are getting our work done, especially since these positions are almost like employees of the university. These study halls would be critical to our academic success.”
He continued to elaborate.
“In addition, proper planning is key, and following a strict schedule is going to be critical to our success as student leaders. I operate better when I follow a schedule. I do realize that the university requires that we are present at events, and sometimes at a moment’s notice, but we have to remember that our academics come first. I do hold a 3.7 grade point average and I do not want to see that fall, because I have aspirations once I leave Alabama State University.”
Hale believes there are five issues and concerns that he wants to address once he takes his office officially.
His first issue is establishing a designated place on campus, where students can study 24 hours a day and feel safe.
“It is nowhere for students to go and actually do their work past 8 p.m.,” Hale said. “A lot of students work, and there is no place for them to do their work after 8 p.m. So, I talked to Dr. Rob (Howard Robinson, Ph.D.) about the iCafe, a room on the side of the library. That is a place that students could use to study 24 hours a day. I know that it would involve extra security, but I believe it is necessary.”
The second issue of concern for Hale is locals coming on and off campus without going through the proper protocol.
“There are multiple locations on campus where people can just walk on campus. We need more cameras on campus so that we can see who is entering the campus. Because this is a public campus, but we need to control who enters effectively.”
Hale’s third issue revolves around communication between students and various offices on campus, as well as the communication between students and faculty.
“The issue is response time and communicating response time,” Hale said. “A student was telling us how they had an issue with mold in their residence hall room and they could not breathe. That student could not get a response for a while. A student should not have to deal with that considering this is a university that students are paying to attend. It should be attended to at a much faster rate.”
He continued.
“That reason alone is why students often leave Alabama State. The response times and the customer service that they receive. Again, I believe that people forget students are paying to attend the university and they want to know that their issues are heard.”
His fourth issue is the career development and career opportunities. While he explains the difference between the two, Hale focused more on career opportunities.
“A lot of students don’t feel as if they are provided as many opportunities for their fields of study,” he said. “We have job fairs, but not for all majors. COBA students seem to be provided with more opportunities than other students. You see a lot of COBA students excel and tend to be highly prepared, considering the training that they receive and the opportunities that they seem to receive. I believe career fairs should be provided for each college. Business people have a lot of opportunities, but other majors, such as C-STEM majors are not given a lot of career opportunities at job fairs. More opportunities push us forward as a university and it gives students something to grasp so they have somewhere to go before graduating. I believe if students received more career development opportunities, they would be more prepared.”
He believes the university is not as transparent as it could be with students when it comes to releasing information.
“A lot of students really never know what is going on,” Hale said. “We do understand that some things have to remain within the student government and within university administration, however, there are some things that the student body should know. Even though the student body does not read many of their emails because we are flooded with emails everyday and no one has time to read all of those emails, we have to meet the student body where they are. If students feel as if their email is flooded, then we need to place more information on social media. I had a meeting with the cafeteria two weeks ago and I suggested to them to utilize social media. As a university, we have to move to social media if we are going to reach our students.
Upon the start of his term, Hale wants to give immediate attention to the SGA constitution.
“I know Hope Smith (SGA executive vice president) has already started looking over the constitution and see what needs to be revised,” he said. “That is something that she wants to get out, possibly, before the new school year begins, but then again, it is such a long process that you have to go through to get the constitution passed and revised, we are not sure if it can technically be done during our school year.”
Hale has commendation for this past SGA administration and said that he has gained a lot of experience and understanding from the issues that they dealt with this year.
“I learned a lot from this past administration,” he said. “First, always be prepared for anything. Things can change in the moment and you have to learn how to smile and pivot. If I had to label that administration, I would label them as ‘smile and pivot.’ Second, start to prepare early for things and understand that it is a team, not one person, and everyone has to play a role in what needs to be done. You have to put yourself behind and realize that there is something much greater than just you.”
Hale reflects upon his time as chief of staff and what he learned.
“I am happy that I was a part of the Power Administration,” he said. “It allowed me to mature and become a better leader seeing the things that I did see and being in the room and spaces allowed me to grow. It was shaky at the beginning, but it came around at the end.”
Hale said there are a number of reasons why he would encourage a students to attend Alabama State University.
“It is the family atmosphere,” he said. “Just knowing it’s people around you who actually care about what you have going on besides just your work and your grades. People that you know will go to bat for you and you will go to bat for them. There are even people on the faculty and staff who will always keep you in line. People like that are what makes the HBCU experience so special and unique.”