Student Government members want students to know what they are up to. That’s why the president and vice president plan to start making video updates and having senators start making door-to-door visits. They used the Fall semester to improve the organization itself, and now they are ready to turn their undivided attention to campus issues and outreach.
“Basically our goal, Jason and I, when we first came into office, was outreach. That’s what we campaigned on—more accountability, people knowing what we did,” President Aris Rotella said. “And our main goal is focused around combating the idea that people say ‘What does the senate do anyway?’”
“That’s the most frustrating question for us,” Vice President Jason Weinpel added.
Both the internal and external changes involve taking a critical look at how things are done.
Members of Student Government recently passed what Rotella called a “a resolution that’s basically going to question the financial aid structure for need-based awards.”
The bill seeks to “examine and change” the policy by which The University may reduce a student’s need-based financial aid by up to 50 percent if the student earns scholarship money from external sources, according to the resolution.
The financial aid structure in question is one in which The University reserves the right to decrease its initial financial aid offering if a student earns merit-based scholarships. The University “holds the right and actively uses it” to take away up to half of the amount of the additional scholarship, Rotella said.
Other plans for the Spring semester are also campus- and community-focused. For example, Rotella and Weinpel said they expect to replace the shower heads in first-year dorms to enhance sustainability on campus.
Rotella and Weinpel are also going to encourage senators to talk to their constituents in door-to-door visits to hear students’ ideas and concerns. They also hope to share video updates on their social media channels for promotion and information.
Another project in the works is a coffee machine slated to be installed in the library by Fall 2015.
Student Government and the information technology department are also working together to create a web app to “extend the functionality of Royal Sync,” Matt Tarantino, director of technology, said. The app will add University-specific functions, such as scheduling for table sits and entering service hours. It should be live in the next few weeks, Tarantino said.
The Fall semester internal changes included changes to the money allocation process for clubs and activities. Weinpel said they “re-imagined” the process to make it more interactive and deliberate. Club leaders were able to speak on behalf on their organizations during the budget planning meetings.
One major policy change last semester was that cabinet members, who are appointed to positions such as director of technology or director of communications, are no longer able to vote. They can still introduce legislation, however. This change, which followed extensive debate, aimed to keep the organization Senate-driven.
Other achievements last semester include getting the Enterprise Car Share program up and running and doubling the usual number of participants in the Fall Street Sweep.
Ultimately, Rotella said the goal of Student Government is to cultivate “a culture of activism” on campus in which senators and cabinet members empower students to share their ideas and make changes at The University.
Feb. 13, 2015