‘Working well together’
Haleigh Ehmsen | Friday, December 12, 2014
Student body president and vice president McKenna Schuster and Sam Moorhead, both seniors, have worked to enhance transparency, accountability and enthusiasm for Student Government Association (SGA) this year.
Beginning with transparency, Schuster said they want the student body to know what SGA does and what events are going on. They have organized a bulletin board in the Student Center with photos of all the SGA chairs so students know to whom they should direct comments and concerns.
Schuster said their marketing chair, junior Katie Calhoun, has ramped up their social media campaign using Instagram to inform students about events, as well as utilizing fliers in the bathroom they call “stall news.”
Responding to the SGA budget problems last year, Schuster and Moorhead have worked to hold their chairs accountable to their duties and positions.
“We have worked on transparency and everybody has been working well together,” Schuster said. “We’ve seen a lot more follow through the things we have been planning are actually happening.”
Moorhead said SGA has not seen the same kind of budget problems they had last year since she and Schuster have emphasized spending within the means, as well as revising the finance bylaws so everyone can see how much each club is allotted.
Another one of Schuster and Moorhead’s goals was to increase attendance at events, which is happening in part because of their marketing campaign, but also due to the implementation of SMCards, Schuster said. She said attendance at SGA events has doubled due to the SMCards which reward students for attending events on campus like lectures, campus ministry events and sporting events.
In addition to attendance rising at events, Schuster and Moorhead have worked to increase communication and openness in their office.
“Our meetings are really productive, and we’ve really seen organization and follow though as a large improvement this year,” Moorhead said.
Schuster said the various SGA chairs have been working together and holding each other accountable to make their events the best they can be.
“People are being creative and taking the initiative, when people actually want to see things happen,” Schuster said.
In the past, Moorhead said the sustainability chair position hasn’t been utilized to its fullest, but they saw that change this year as the chair helped to plan Food Week.
This year, Schuster and Moorhead said they have been working with senior Kelly Gutrich, vice president of internal affairs, to revise SGA’s constitution.
Moorhead said the constitution was not cohesive and concise and Gutrich and her constitution committee have been revising it all semester. They put forth the new version for a vote at the Dec. 10 Senate Meeting.
Moorhead said they have reached out to the Notre Dame student body president and vice president, as well as the Holy Cross student body president and vice president, to keep them updated on what SGA is doing and to talk about the larger concern of campus safety.
“We want to make sure that our students are safe on and off campus,” Schuster said. “We want students to know what cabs are trusted and make sure that cabs won’t deny students because Saint Mary’s is another block further.”
Moorhead echoed Schuster’s concern.
“We want to make sure Saint Mary’s students are as safe as other students,” Moorhead said.
Schuster said SGA has had to overcome the complications ensuing from the disbanding of Student Involvement and Multicultural Services (SIMS) and subsequent loss of the three SGA advisors who served on SIMS.
“It was good that we have been really organized and holding our chairs accountable because otherwise that transition to a new advisor might have been more difficult,” Schuster said.
Schuster and Moorhead have a “Big Sister, Little Sister” program in the works where first-year students would be paired up with a junior to help guide the student through the challenges of the first year of college.
“This program provides advice and guidance because the first year can be rough,” Moorhead said. “We believe we can help to fix that by pairing first-year students with someone who already knows and love Saint Mary’s.”
This program differs from the Peer Mentor program, which provides a junior or senior to advise a class of all first-year students.
“We want a program that exists outside of the classroom so students can go to their ‘big sis’ for anything,” Moorhead said.
Schuster and Moorhead said they are focused on building the groundwork for SGA to be the best it can be in the upcoming years.
“We want to make girls feel as welcome as we can,” Schuster said. “While this can’t necessarily happen during our time in office, we don’t want to just turn down good ideas because we can’t see them happen.
“We encourage girls to keep going, and it’s exciting because we have many underclassmen who are enthusiastic and want to see their work continued.”
Moorhead said they have exciting events planned for the spring, including a spring fling event to enhance campus unity.
“It’s in the works, but it’s going to be a fun event for the whole campus,” Moorhead said.