SGA makes internal changes, allots money to campus clubs
Alicia Smith | Friday, December 10, 2010
Saint Mary’s College Student Government Association (SGA) has worked throughout the course of the Fall semester to accurately represent the needs of the student body.
After the College administration announced a plan to change the co-exchange meal tickets — passes that allowed Saint Mary’s students to use a meal swipe to have dinner at a Notre Dame dining hall — SGA fought back. Student body president Rachael Chesley and student body vice president Laura Smith met with Saint Mary’s officials to discuss the reason for the changes.
The administration’s changes limited the number of co-exchange tickets that were offered, and only allowed students to receive the meal tickets if they were unable to eat at the College due to extra-curricular activities or classes. In the past, all students had the opportunity to receive the co-exchange tickets regardless of whether or not they were able to eat at the College.
SGA resisted the unpopular change.
After serious discussion with the administration, SGA held a forum, allowing students to meet with Karen Johnson, vice president for Student Affairs, Richard Speller, vice president for Finance and Administration and Barry Bowles, director of Dining Services.
SGA continued to pursue the co-exchange issue throughout the semester, offering suggestions to the administration and attempting to plan events to make up for the lack of availability for the meal tickets.
Though SGA worked consistently to change the administration’s stance on the co-exchange issue, the College would not revert to the old policy. Instead, the administration offered students the opportunity to purchase an off-campus meal plan from Notre Dame if they desired to eat at the University on a regular basis.
SGA also worked in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College’s student government organizations to set up a discount program for students at local retailers and area restaurants. The discount program went into effect and was advertised around campus.
The program was also advertised on SGA’s new website, which was created to keep students informed about the mission and goals of SGA. The website offers details about each member of the board and includes information about current SGA projects and minutes from previous meetings.
In addition to the new website, SGA also created a finance committee dedicated to handling financial policies, as well as club and organization sponsorships and grants.
SGA created the finance committee to improve efficiency. The committee is made up of six members: SGA president and vice president, chief of staff, treasurer, secretary and campus club commissioner.
In years past, clubs and organizations that wished to receive funding from SGA met with the entire board. However, the finance committee now makes funding decisions and handles the majority of communication with clubs and organizations seeking sponsorship and grant money.
If a club or organization disagrees with a decision made by the finance committee, it can appeal and meet with the entire board. If the board votes that the appeal is valid, the finance committee will reconvene to consider the appeal.
Al-Zarah, a club representing Middle Eastern and North African cultures, Circle K, a group which promotes volunteering throughout the community and the Social Work Club, won allotment appeals for more funding.
Saint Mary’s Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) and the National Student Speech-Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) organization lost appeals.
SGA also discussed ways to raise awareness for the campus readership program this semester. The board discussed giving prizes to students who were caught reading the newspaper. SGA also discussed having coffee-house style meetings where professors and students could meet at Dalloway’s to discuss articles from the newspaper. At the meetings professors would be given the opportunity to pick an article from the paper and present it to students.
SGA also worked to create a social space for students on campus. After much deliberation, the board voted to use their Capital Fund money — a general fund for the Board to use on various campus improvements — to redecorate the basement of Le Mans Hall for this space.
Since mid-semester, SGA has discussed ideas for the space including color schemes and different zones that should be included within the space. The board voted for a light green, coral and teal color scheme and to dedicate about $38,000 to redecorate the 5,000 square foot space.
An interior designer is assisting in the renovations.
The board has also continued to work on making itself available to students. SGA held an open forum at the end of the semester offering students the opportunity to share suggestions and make recommendations to the board.
SGA also set up a suggestion basket in the Noble Family Dining Hall so students who were unable to attend the forum could still offer input.
SGA worked consistently throughout the semester to be the voice facilitate the needs of the student body. By pursuing the co-exchange meal ticket adjustments and offering students an opportunity to talk with administrators about the changes, the student leaders gave the student body a voice. In addition, the Le Mans basement project will directly benefit the student body and meet the need for a social space on campus. SGA also offered an open forum to gain feedback from the students so they can continue to work in their best interest. Though SGA has been listening to the students, there is still some work to be done.