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Channing Redditt

Q&A With Channing Redditt

Student Government Association President

Posted: 05/06/2013

In 2009, Roosevelt University President Chuck Middleton made an unprecedented offer to all students in the first two graduating classes at Chicago’s recently opened Social Justice High School: if they excelled in high school and met certain academic standards, they would receive a full-tuition, four-year scholarship to Roosevelt.

Fifteen students from those classes met the challenge and enrolled at Roosevelt, including Channing Redditt, who would go on to become president of the Student Government Association at the Chicago Campus.

One of the most popular and engaging students at Roosevelt, Redditt is a fixture at University events and activities, but he’s best known for being a leader. In addition to serving in student government for three years, he started the Proclaim Gospel Choir and was president of RU Prime, a student organization that promotes AIDS awareness and testing.

When Middleton announced the scholarship, he said one of his goals was to form a bond between two institutions which share a mission of social justice. Through his volunteer and leadership activities, Redditt, a Social Justice Studies major, exemplifies the commitment of both schools to community service and educational opportunities.

In an interview with Roosevelt Review Editor Tom Karow, Redditt reflects on his family, goals and experiences at Roosevelt.


TOM KAROW Did you grow up in a family that encouraged education?

CHANNING REDDITT Both of my parents really know the importance of education. My mom wouldn't let us watch TV or play video games unless we had done our homework. And when we didn't have homework, she often had us do a book report before we could have fun.

TK Can you tell me about your family?

CR My mom is a stay-at-home mom and my dad works at Family Focus, a community organization, helping men who were incarcerated. They've been married for 27 years. My brother Cecil goes to Alabama A&M and is currently getting his master's in music education. My parents made me who I am today. They taught me how to be respectful and treat people the way I want to be treated, which is the Golden Rule.

TK What is your neighborhood like?

CR I grew up in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood. It's my home and I love it. I wouldn't say it's dangerous, but it certainly is a place where you need to stay on your toes, stay alert.

TK Why did you attend Social Justice High School?

CR The school leaders came to my elementary school and talked about the school. At first I thought it was for criminal justice and police matters, but then I learned it is about differences and the struggles people go through every day in life. It turned out to be a great introduction to attending Roosevelt. It was almost like I was destined to go from Social Justice High School to Roosevelt University.

TK Were you a leader in high school?

CR I was the student representative to our local school council and I was on the Campus Council, which is the equivalent of a student government association. That's where my interest in leadership started.

TK What was it like when you learned that you were accepted to Roosevelt on a fulltuition, four-year scholarship?

CR I was at the high school working on a math project when they called and told me I won. It was so exciting. I went home and told my parents and we were all very happy. The scholarship just made coming to Roosevelt even better. I was also considering Illinois State, but the full-ride helped a lot.

TK Was freshman year a major transition for you?

CR Even before freshman year started, I went through the Summer Bridge Program at Roosevelt, which is part of Project Prime. It definitely helped prepare me for college life. I took math and science courses and learned more about how to balance my time for studying and homework. I also lived on campus for a week, which was good because I found that it was different being on my own without my mom telling me to do my homework before I watch TV. As a result, freshman year was actually the easiest year for me. I also wasn't as involved as I am now.

TK Did you live on campus as a freshman?

CR I've lived on campus my entire four years at Roosevelt. Freshman year I was in University Center and I was able to meets all kinds of people. That's one of the things that Social Justice High School did for me – it gave me an opportunity to be open and know how to interact with different types of people. My neighborhood is predominately African-American. Now I have lots of white friends, international friends.

TK How did you become involved in the Student Government Association?

CR Sophomore year one of my friends who was in student government kept urging me to join SGA, so I did. I was a senator for a year and then was elected vice president. In my junior year I became president.

TK As SGA president, do you meet very often with President Middleton?

CR Yes, at least once a month. We talk about issues around the University and I give him updates on what the students are doing and feeling. Plus I can talk to him whenever I need to, if he's available. That's pretty great access.

TK What are some of the issues facing SGA?

CR One thing we're pushing for is the creation of a Student Health Center. Many schools have one and we believe Roosevelt should too. Students also want to have a multicultural space. Even with the new Wabash Building, there is something missing. It would be a place where everybody could get together, a place of inclusion. The election of senators was another big issue. I'm glad we recently changed the rules so that from now on senators will be elected, rather than appointed.

TK How do you handle students who have complaints or ideas?

CR I say that if you really want something to be done, come and talk to me about it. I'll encourage them to attend a SGA meeting or email us with their thoughts. If they don't do those things, then their complaint is just a complaint. We want to make sure that if they want something, they are willing to work with us.

TK As a student leader, are you asked to be involved in other areas?

CR I was selected to be a member of Roosevelt's Strategic Planning Steering Committee and welcomed new students at the annual Convocation. I also was the opening speaker at Roosevelt's New Deal Service Days one year. It's easy for me to talk in front of groups. I guess I got that preparation being a singer in church.

TK What advice do you have for members of the Strategic Planning Committee?

CR I think Roosevelt needs to focus more on students who have been here for a year or more. We do lots of things for freshmen, but I'm starting to see that people who have been here for a while feel left out. I think that also will help our retention.

TK Tell me about your major and career goals.

CR I am a Social Justice Studies major. The program is part of the Economics Department and combines economics, history, political science and sociology as they relate to social justice activities. My plan is to work with youth, especially minorities who come from low-income families. I want to let them know that there are opportunities out there for them and to make sure they take advantage of them. The kids in my community have a lot of talent, but some of that talent goes to waste. They need someone to encourage them, keep them going. This year, I'm working for the Jumpstart program. I am reading to preschool-aged children, kind of like a teacher's assistant.

TK From your perspective, what does it take to be successful?

CR It takes great friends, a great support system at home and at school. You need to know what resources are available and then take advantage of them. For me, Project Prime was definitely the main thing that helped me at Roosevelt.

TK When you talk with high school students about Roosevelt, what do you tell them?

CR I tell them that if they want to make an impact in life, they should come to Roosevelt. Roosevelt can help you become a leader. It is something they do really well.

TK You'll be graduating in December, are you ready to move on?

CR I'm still enjoying college life. I'm not going to rush it or speed it up, but I'll be ready when the time comes.