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Council discusses term changes

John Cameron | Wednesday, February 9, 2011

At its Tuesday meeting, the Council of Representatives (COR) discussed problems with the transition at the end of student government office terms, including ineffective training of new officers and difficulty in event planning during the transition period.

Student body vice president Andrew Bell said the issue comes up repeatedly and could be addressed in a Student Senate amendment. A common complaint, Bell said, is the inability of students studying abroad to serve the next semester.

“Are there certain positions where we think it’s possible to start at different times in the year other than the usual April 1 to April 1?” he said. “I guess the options are shifting the dates of the term start, or are there positions we think could be shorter or is there a single time frame we think everyone should have?”

Ricky Bevington, director of First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (FUEL), a freshman leadership program, said he thought a single set of term dates is best because it simplifies the process for students considering running for office.

“If we streamline it, I think it would be best for attracting people to these positions,” he said.

Julia Sutton, Student Union Board (SUB) manager, said the current term transition of April 1 presents her group with a challenge in programming the rest of the semester.

“SUB has issues with this. We physically can’t not plan after April 1. Antostal’s after April 1,” she said. “I guess it would be ideal for programmers not to be considered in that.”

Sutton said part of the problem with having a different term end-date for SUB members is that it would leave them ineligible to run for another office.

Sophomore class president Brett Rocheleau said the April 1 date negates the opportunity for class councils’ event programming for April, a month ideal for outdoor events.

“I think for class councils the election time, March 1, is good. I would just recommend they change office around May 1,” he said. “Then they could get a lot of events done in April.”

Student body president Catherine Soler said programming is a possibility during April despite the transition period.

“You can plan events [for April] as long as it’s approved by Programming Board and you have that transition with the new people going in [to office],” she said. “I think it’s hard, it’s an extra step, but I don’t think that makes it impossible.”

Kate Clitheroe, senior class president, agreed a smooth, cooperative transition period between office-holders is essential but often overlooked.

“I think if you’re going to have an April 1 date, you need to emphasize there needs to be a period of transition where you help the new people get acclimated,” she said. “The duty’s not clear enough … it may be on paper but it’s not enforced.”

Soler said it might come down to personal responsibility on the part of officers to ensure their successors are properly trained.

“Is there a real reason, or are we just being lazy in our transition?” she said. “I think maybe that’s something we need to take more responsibility for.”