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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

SGA Cabinet shares progress

In light of the recent change in SGA’s financial situation, and because the end of the semester is approaching, the S&B spoke  with members of the SGA Cabinet to ask about their progress thus far and their goals for the future. Following is Part one of a two-part series.

President, Thomas Neil ‘14

Even as Neil  took on the role of SGA President, he had some reservations about the position. Suddenly being in the shoes of the main person in charge of a $400,000 budget and a student-run bureaucracy, moving into the president’s position had its challenges for Neil. But that hasn’t stopped Neil from developing some long-term and large-scale plans for SGA’s policies and infrastructure.

“I’m most looking forward to institutionalizing deeper changes,” Neil said. “[The] things that are a little boring, but, at the end of the day, pretty key to avoiding conflicts of interests, making sure the ethics of our group are sound and being very accountable to students.”

Neil has also worked to create and maintain a safer campus community, with SGA supporting programming and informational campaigns focusing especially on deterring dangerous alcohol consumption and reckless behavior. SGA has taken an especially active role in encouraging preventative education and policies regarding alcohol consumption and sexual assault after outcry following last year’s figures on sexual assault on campus.

“We’ve only had, last time I checked, one alcohol-related hospitalization this semester,” Neil said. “While that’s not entirely within our control I think that we’ve been really intentional and programmed a certain way.”

Thus far this year, Neil has worked to strengthen the connections within the SGA Cabinet, as well as between the student body and SGA offices. Changing the name and format of the weekly student senator gathering has been one manifestation of these efforts. Previously called Joint Board, the weekly meeting is now called Campus Council and rotates locations across campus so as to facilitate student involvement. Neil sees these connections as key to maintaining a healthily operating SGA and hopes to get students engaged with SGA and Campus Council.

Aware of the privilege that his position accords him, Neil aims to keep things in perspective and leverage his influence in the most productive manner.

While Neil wishes that SGA had more time to pursue its ideas and projects, he is confident in the progress SGA has made so far especially with regards to overcoming significant budgetary obstacles; he also prides SGA on the implementation of new ideas such as the recently unveiled Community Engagement Award.

VPAA, Remy Ferber ’14

Unlike other cabinet members, most of Ferber’s projects and responsibilities have longer-term pay-offs. Some of her current projects include serving on committees that are planning for future academic spaces and, in line with her campaign where she promised to “address the stress,” Ferber advocates for the decompression of exam schedules. However, due to the fact that proposed changes to academic affairs have to be passed through several committees, it is unlikely that the fruit of her efforts will tangibly manifest itself in the near future; instead, Ferber looks to a timeline of five to twenty years.

“By the time that I come back as an alum down the road, that’s when I’ll see the new buildings that I was a part of making decisions for in my academic space planning. That’s something down the road that I’m a part of now,” she said.

In the meantime, Ferber has been busy at work trying to increase student awareness of her position in SGA and to create a larger niche within SGA for the VPAA. As the only student representative on several committees related to academic affairs and planning, Ferber is trying to make her voice heard and to accurately represent student opinion.

“Academic affairs is sexy, and I want to show students that Academic Affairs is important to our community now,” Ferber said.

Ferber’s time spent on the SGA Cabinet has involved collaborative effort with other cabinet members and she acknowledges the rapport between this year’s cabinet members as a key component of SGA’s success..

VPSA, Ope Awe ’15

Ope Awe ’15 took the position of Vice President for Student Affairs with trepidation, conscious of the fact that her predecessor, Sivan Philo ‘13, had to deal with crises such as concerns regarding diversity and the state of sexual assault on campus. Now, nearing the halfway point in her time in the VPSA position, she has been happy with the direction that her office has taken this semester.

One of the major accomplishments of Student Affairs this year has been a series of town hall meetings. The first dealt with Title IX, harm reduction and diversity and the second focused on technology and learning. As with the second one, the College hopes to solicit and incorporate student opinion while determining the topic to be discussed in future town halls. Awe has played a pioneering role in advocating for open discussion of current and relevant issues and topics within Student Affairs.

In her position, Awe has been continuing some of the work started last year, including implementation of the College’s new sexual assault policies and working towards increased support for diversity on campus. In working on many of these issues that students feel very strongly about, Awe is aware of the responsibilities that come with her role and encourages students to reach out to members of Cabinet with their opinions regarding different aspects of their student experience.

“I wish students would utilize us more,” Awe said. “It doesn’t matter how insignificant your concern is, our job is to help [and] advocate for you.”

Working to implement longer-term and infrastructural changes in student affairs, Awe’s plans for this coming semester include increasing the amount of on-the-ground bystander and safety training that ACE Security officers receive.

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