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BOARD OF GOVERNANCE: BOG tries to increase its presence on SMC campus

Kelly Meehan | Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Saint Mary’s Board of Governance (BOG) has come together this semester to initiate new programs aimed to further unite the student body and address pressing issues such as diversity on campus.

“I have really noticed an increase in the presence of student government on campus this year,” student body vice president Susan McIlduff said. “The committee members really go above and beyond what they are required to do.”

McIlduff and student body president Kellye Mitros worked to increase student representation on BOG through the introduction of three new commissioner positions: Student Services, Admissions and Health and Wellness.

“These new positions really allow for a stronger Board connection with College administration to meet the student body’s needs,” McIlduff said.

Student Services commissioner Kate Wallach has worked closely with Barry Bowles, manager of Sodexho, to improve campus food services. These changes are apparent in the posting of nutrition facts in the dining hall, the introduction of a late night pasta bar at Dalloway’s and an overall improvement in food selection.

McIlduff stressed the need for a Health and Wellness commissioner after acknowledging students’ desire for an increased dialogue with the Health and Wellness Center.

“It will really help the students utilize the Center and allow them to make suggestions for improvements,” she said.

The success of BOG has also been dependant on the Student Diversity Board’s innovative new programs regarding diversity issues on campus. SDB president Amanda Shropshire began a S.I.S.T.A.H. Talks discussion series to facilitate open discussion between students about controversial issues.

SDB will also make College history when it hosts the first ever student-run “Diverse Students Leadership Conference” in March. The purpose of this conference will be to develop the necessary tools to function in an increasingly diverse society, SDB vice president Claradith Landry said.

The Student Activities Board, led by president Megan Cahill, has worked to maintain traditional College events such as Jamaica Shaka while also introducing new ones such as Sundaes on Sunday.

“I really admire [Cahill’s] simple ideas that really get the students involved,” McIlduff said.

Mission commissioner Jenny Robbins has increased the opportunity for students to focus on religious issues through the creation of Theology on Fire. The monthly event features speakers followed by open group discussion.

“The goal of this event it to facilitate religious issues awareness through open discussion,” Robbins said. “It is very similar to the College’s yearly Catholic Common Ground discussion.”

McIlduff and Mitros said BOG has been successful thus far primarily because members have not had to face controversy similar to last year’s Pride Week T-shirt debacle, which occupied much of the Board’s attention in 2004.

“We have been very sensitive to the issues of the campus,” McIlduff said. “We have all learned from the past and focused on being inclusive of events that represent the student body.”

An administrative decision eliminated Pride Week from the College calendar this fall. McIlduff said the Board has not received complaints about the cancellation of the Week and hopes students will enjoy the newly created Heritage Week scheduled for January.

“Heritage Week will be something new that will allow students to increase their knowledge of the College’s vast history,” she said.

As outlined in the Mitros-McIlduff campaign platform, the weeklong event series is intended to “promote greater understanding and appreciation of Saint Mary’s history and show how it made the College what it is today.”

BOG has been forced to deal with a tight budget due to below average enrollment numbers in the Class of 2008. Board funding will continue to be below average until the class graduates in two and a half years.

“[BOG] treasurer Jillian Waters has done a wonderful job organizing our books and keeping on top of our meager budget,” McIlduff said.

Budget troubles may become a thing of the past, however, as the College continues to increase the size of its student body. BOG Admissions commissioner Annie Davis facilitates the exchange of ideas for enrollment management between the Board and the Admissions staff.

Davis has increased the awareness and popularity of the Volunteers in Support of Admission (VISA) program, McIlduff said. VISA gives current students the opportunity to share their Saint Mary’s experience with prospective students.

The Board utilizes its expansive office space in the College’s new student center that opened last spring. The Board previously worked in a notably smaller office located in Haggar College Center.

“The student center offices are great,” McIlduff said. “People come in all the time – we work there all hours of the night and get a lot of paperwork done there.”

She said the Board also uses the new building for various functions such as dances, movies and game watches.

McIlduff said BOG has several events planned for next semester including SMC Tostal, Little Sibs Weekend, Heritage Week, Diverse Students Leadership Conference and four Chicago bus trips.

“I am happy with the overall increased presence of BOG on campus,” McIlduff said. “We are working hard to maintain traditions while starting several new and exciting events.”