STUDENT GOV’T INSIDER: Group encourages student involvement, funds events
Ashley Charnley | Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Members of the Board of Governance have encouraged students to become more involved in campus events throughout the current term.
Student body president Kim Hodes and vice president Kelly Payne stressed establishing strong relations between the main groups on campus, from the administration to alumnae and students, and surrounded themselves with a board committed to the same goals.
“I think this year BOG is trying much harder to connect with the students to hear their concerns and voice them to the administration,” said Sarita Fritzler, BOG chief of staff.
By increasing communication, BOG can be a more effective tool for students, she said.
“We wanted to work to connect the student body to BOG,” Payne said.
The Board consists of 26 commissioners, representing various campus organizations and class boards. Groups represented include the Residence Hall Association, Student Activities Board, Student Diversity Board and each of the four class boards. BOG meets weekly at 5 p.m. in the second floor of the Student Center.
The Board is responsible for co-sponsoring events, planning new activities and representing the student body to faculty and staff.
Poor attendance at many BOG-planned events has forced the board to plan less frequent activities and look for new ways to entice students to attend.
The board has been making attempts to give students a way to express their ideas, but the results have not always been what they had hoped for, Fritzler said.
The Food for Thought monthly forum is one of the ways BOG hoped students would be able to express their ideas.
Food for Thought, which originally was intended to occur weekly, is a discussion session that focuses on the role of BOG on campus and offers an opportunity for students to voice any concerns they might have. But a lack of interest in the event caused the board to reduce the forum’s frequency.
While some of the events have produced low numbers, many have exceeded expectations, Fritzler said.
The launch of the Saint Mary’s version of “The Shirt” had a turnout of close to 100 students, and scores attended the co-sponsored pep rally at Notre Dame.
However, despite the low attendance of other events, ways to improve turnout are not being discussed thoroughly at meetings.
Discussion at meetings has centered on co-sponsorships and a partnership with Sodexho, the food service provider for the College, to make changes to policies already in place.
The board’s most notable change allowed students to bring backpacks into the dining hall during lunch hours. The menu has also changed to cater to student requests.
Extending Cyber Café hours was also at the repeated request of students.
The board is trying to get the student body engaged, in both the College community and the world outside the College.
“I would like to see BOG really raise awareness about the importance of being engaged with the students, involved and informed,” Fritzler said.
Fritzler also said she wants BOG to help inform students of the upcoming 2008 presidential election.
Co-sponsorships are another large part of BOG’s goals. The board receives funds to distribute among clubs and events. Most of the clubs asking for money will send representatives to appeal to BOG and to answer questions for the commissioners about why the funds are needed.
Payne also discussed future plans to raise money for BOG. She has been talking to Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Johnson about investing the board’s money so it can create a rollover fund for next year. With more money, BOG can do more things for the students, Payne said.
“More programming and fundraising has taken place this year in an effort to connect the student body more to student government, especially BOG,” Hodges said.
BOG has been working hard to increase student involvement in activities and events on campus. While several events were well attended, others were not, and more work could be done to explain low student attendance. While the board seems willing to work with students to allow them to express their ideas and opinions about the campus, the attendance issue needs to be resolved. Not much work has been done to work toward the board’s goals, but there is potential to do so next semester.