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Board of Governance: Leaders deliver fast, effective results for SMC students

Kelly Meehan | Monday, December 11, 2006

When the Belles rang, the Board of Governance (BOG) answered, more prepared than ever to bring the student body what it wanted.

When students demanded a pep rally, BOG delivered. When students asked for more newspapers, they saw the readership program double, and when they wanted to go shopping in Chicago the buses were there.

The BOG’s 26 student commissioners form the College’s main student policymaking board, which comes together each Monday night to grant club co-sponsorships, organize campus activities and, most importantly, address the diverse and changing needs of Saint Mary’s.

This year, student body president Susan McIlduff said, BOG has passed multiple co-sponsorships to increase the diversity of campus clubs – an idea that will make Saint Mary’s more appealing to both current and prospective students.

This year’s Board, however, does not mirror the image that comes to mind when many students think of Saint Mary’s student government, McIlduff said.

“This is a watershed year,” she said. “We have many juniors [on BOG], which is typically made up of seniors. We also have commissioners from all over campus. … [BOG] is not the clique people formerly thought of when they thought about student government.”

But the composition of the BOG isn’t the only change to Saint Mary’s student government.

To create a more open and collaborative environment, McIlduff had the cubicles removed from the student government office in the student center.

Student government offices don’t need cubicles, she said, and without them “the environment has completely changed.”

When these dividing walls came down, the student leaders’ level of unity and cooperation went up.

Every day from 4 p.m. to 5, various commissioners gather in the second floor student center offices to address personal goals while helping others to meet theirs.

Various dry erase and bulletin boards adorn the Student Government Association [SGA] office walls not only to serve as a constant reminder of the “to-do list” necessary to meet goals but also to indicate a sign of change – an idea Saint Mary’s becomes more familiar with on a daily basis.

“One year ago you wouldn’t have seen any of these bulletin boards,” McIlduff said. “Four years after I began to work in student government, we have new [administration], [buildings] and a new student government.”

The basis of this “new student government” is a written list of goals set by each commissioner at the start of her term.

“We realized at the start of our term that some [BOG] positions were not utilized to their full potential,” Siefert said. “We needed to increase communication to show [commissioners] – particularly new ones – what their job is. … Most don’t know exactly what their role is unless their president and vice president tell them.”

Members have also focused on readjusting academic dynamic through Student Academic Council’s plight to reassess College curriculum – an assessment BOG takes seriously enough to do its own academic “house cleaning.”

A strict BOG meeting agenda and an increase in SGA members’ minimum GPA from 2.5 to 2.8 have topped the Board’s list of accomplishments.

With an online event calendar, updated event hotline and daily office hours, the changes have made BOG more student-friendly – but both McIlduff and Siefert said they plan to make SGA an even bigger part of student life.

Siefert said she hopes to foster a stronger campus community through the distribution of a monthly SGA newsletter.

“We have listened to the students’ needs to get Saint Mary’s going in the right direction,” she said.

As a member of the College president’s planning committee, “I realize how valued the students’ opinions are on this campus,” she said.

The Saint Mary’s administration demonstrated its willingness to hear student opinion when College President Carol Ann Mooney paid BOG a visit on Nov. 20.

“It is a real sign of appreciation when [Mooney] comes to hear student government’s opinion,” McIlduff said, “which is really the opinion of the student body.”

McIlduff said BOG’s main policy is to make the Board present on campus and address student concerns – a goal she said she believes is accomplished.

McIlduff said there is little – if anything – she would change about her time as BOG president.

“I look forward to passing the reigns onto the next generation and see what people do with it,” she said.