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Chesley, Smith deliver State of SGA address

Megan Loney | Thursday, March 3, 2011

Student body president Rachael Chesley and vice president Laura Smith discussed their administration’s successes, setbacks and ongoing projects during their State of Student Government Association (SGA) address on Wednesday.

“Students, it has been our sincere pleasure to have served you this past year,” Chesley said. “We confidently believe that our board has left its mark this year, and we look forward to the few weeks we have left ahead.”

Chesley highlighted five goals that she and Smith sought to pursue this academic school year.

They set out to make Saint Mary’s more appealing to students, encourage clubs to use the SGA office as a collective workspace, make Saint Mary’s a more present force in the community, make SGA more recognizable on campus and make SGA board members accountable to effectively achieve more.

Chesley and Smith noted specific initiatives they implemented in agreement with each of these goals.

The newly-created finance committee held finance seminars for clubs and worked to create clarity and consistency in SGA finances. Under this committee, eligibility for campus programming sponsorships and travel grants increased by $500 each and a new joint campus grant of $3,750 was available to clubs that worked collaboratively on a campus event, Chesley said.

The LeMans Hall Basement renovation project, funded by the SGA Capital Fund, will be completed after spring break. This project is a part of the administration’s goal to make Saint Mary’s more appealing to students.

“Noticing the lack of strictly social spaces on campus, SGA targeted the Le Mans basement to turn into an interactive, social, and engaging space on campus that will invigorate the student body,” Smith said.

Chesley’s administration also worked with the student governments of Holy Cross and Notre Dame to establish the Students for South Bend Discount Program.

“While providing more affordable means for students to support the community, it has also worked to strengthen the relationship between the students at all three institutions,” Smith said.

The current SGA administration created a position of international commissioner to serve as a liaison between SGA and international students and a marketing committee to design and maintain the new SGA website. They also made SGA agendas and weekly minutes available to students.

Chesley and Smith discussed SGA-sponsored campus events, including a breast cancer awareness fashion show from which the proceeds were donated to the Vera Bradley foundation, a “Get Caught Reading” promotional day for the Collegiate Readership program, the annual Pumpkin Carving Contest, the annual bus trips to Chicago, Heritage Week and Love Your Body Week.

Chesley ended the address by citing lessons she learned during her term.

“Student Government association understands that there are ways to improve and knowledge to gain for the future,” she said.

She then invited newly-elected student body president Nicole Gans and vice president Jaqualyn Zupanic whose administration officially begins April 1, to speak.

Gans and Zupanic acknowledged the precedent that Chesley and Smith set through SGA’s initiatives this year.

“Looking back on this past year, Rachael and Laura, as well as the current administration, truly have set a new standard as far as making SGA visible to the entire student body,” Zupanic said.

“This administration has started many impressive undertakings, of which we hope to be able to see through next year.”

Gans and Zupanic said their administration will focus on expanding SGA to include more student input and developing Saint Mary’s as a leader in diversity awareness, women’s health, community involvement and ecological consciousness, Gans said.

“We want to be the eyes, hands and heart of the campus,” Gans said. “We want each student to feel as though SGA represents her and her needs.”

Junior Katie Ciresi attended Wednesday’s SGA address due to her interest in being aware of student government activities.

“I was aware of many of the initiatives that they talked about, but it was good to have it summarized, reiterated,” Ciresi said. “A lot of students complain about things going on around campus, but you can’t complain until you actually put effort into knowing about what’s really going on.”

Chesley concluded the address with a message to all Saint Mary’s students.

“The most important individuals to student government are the students,” Chesley said. “You are why student leaders work conscientiously and earnestly each and every week. You matter, and you are the future of Saint Mary’s. Continue to share the same love for Saint Mary’s that we do, and know that we are first and foremost your advocates and your SMC sisters.”