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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

SGA slides into stride

SGA hopes to provide a better connection with the student body of Grinnell this by year by implementing a number of changes to campus community outreach.
In last year’s elections for the current cabinet, held during the spring semester, self-governance was a defining focus of the SGA Election committee in selecting candidates, as noted in campaign interviews in the Feb. 27, 2009 issue of The S&B.
SGA President Harry Krejsa ’10 campaigned with the explicit goal of tackling the perceived gap of trust between the administration, SGA and the student body. Krejsa defined the idea of self-governance, a tenet espoused by SGA, as being anchored in such trust.
“We have started most of the big conversations we have wanted to start, and are now looking to solicit more from our senators and from the community to move forward with,” Krejsa said.
Institutional reform was another of Krejsa’s campaign goals, commencing this semester with line-by-line reading of the SGA constitution with Reform Committee, spearheaded by Alex Peitz ’10, Student Services Coordinator, and Ethan Struby ’10, Administrative Coordinator, the committee brought the constitution up to date, and to remove errors and archaic rules. Next semester, alongside student initiatives, SGA plans on submitting a list of constitutional reforms to update.
In her campaign statement, Vice-President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) Joanna DeMars ’10 proposed online course registration, and worked to make changes to faculty orientation and selection, with a greater focus on faculty diversity—goals that have not been fully realized yet, but have seen improvements as committees are being formed to discuss the two issues.
Another of DeMars’ goals was to introduce changes to “classroom and learning spaces” on campus. According DeMars, by the end of the semester, a report will be filed to Marci Sortor, Vice President for Institutional Planning, with the results of investigations conducted this semester, including a photography experiment by the Student Curriculum Committee to identify preferred study areas on campus that will take place this Tuesday.
Demars has also helped carry on changes begun by last year’s SGA by working to expand the role of student membership on the Committee on Academic Standing. Last year, former VPAA Julie Hoye ’09 achieved two non-voting seats for trial student members. DeMars followed up on this with a report detailing those members’ experience, and a proposal to upgrade the positions to include full voting rights. A final faculty vote is expected by the end of the semester.
Another perspective within SGA included Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) Ben Offenberg ’11, who stated two main campaign goals—specifically, reorganizing Resident Life Coordinators (RLC) training and disseminating campus committee’s information to the student body. This year, RLC training was extended from three weeks to six weeks, with greater emphasis placed on self-governance in the training process.
“What I was told before was that…they spent an hour on self-gov, and this time they seem like they’ve really emphasized that this is what the community is,” said Offenberg.
Offenberg also helped push forward changes to the often stressful room draw process setting up a separate draw for triples two weeks in advance of regular drawing, so that students can plan ahead if they do not get their first choice of housing, and revising group draws to be based on numbers, rather than on location.
Beyond his campaign promises, Offenberg has had to tackle the issue of smoking on campus property. Since Iowa’s “Smoke Free” law passed July this year, effectively banning smoking on campus propery, complaints about smokers on campus brought in police officers and a number of citations. Offenberg is working with Facilities Management to reinstate cigarette disposal bins, also known as Smokers’ Outposts, encouraging smokers to smoke legally, or off of campus grounds, and to dispose of the waste properly.
While the cabinet makes up a large portion of SGA’s presence on campus, student senators put in the voice of Residence Hall Clusters through Joint Board sessions, passing resolutions and representing the student voice on campus.
Off Campus/Non Campus Owned Senator Phil Hagen ’10, who is serving his 6th semester as a SGA senator, said that the current Joint Board is more involved and balanced than in previous years.
“It’s good because you have those people who are passionate about certain things, and the other people who aren’t so much passionate about it, and they can give a very logical reason,” Hagen said.
First-semester senator Kendall Holley ’11 echoed Hagen’s positive sentiments regarding Joint Board, noting that advocacy of issues was high amongst certain groups, with others playing a more subdued, moderator role.
“Different parts of campus, who they are and what they do, they’re very different on Joint Board,” Holley said, discussing the variety of views from different senators focusing on specific issues. “You can tell where people have different experiences with certain things.”
However, even with the enthusiasm, the 100 percent passage rate of proposed resolutions in Joint Board raises questions as to whether Joint Board is simply a rubber stamping session, passing anything and everything introduced.
Krejsa said that even though the statistics show that every resolution passes, this is because the majority of bills that would not pass are terminated before they make it to Joint Board.
“Resolutions don’t have a very low fail rate because of the process they have to go through before they’re passed,” Krejsa said.
Resolutions are given a two-week period, after being introduced, for discussion and amendments before being introduced to Joint Board to be voted on.
“Really, if something’s proposed, unless it’s absolutely ridiculous, we’ll discuss it for a while, and we’ll probably agree on it,” said Hagen.
Student impressions of SGA have been favorable this semester similarly favorable this year. “Last year I felt like there was a divide between SGA and the school, because I feel like they did whatever they wanted to, but I didn’t have so much experience with them,” said Nikeisha Sewell ’12. “But now I find that I can talk with them if I have a problem. If it’s something they have done, and I don’t like it, I feel like I can just say, ‘Harry, I don’t like what you did,’ and he’s not going to be offended by it. So I’ve had really good experience with SGA.”
While several students noted that they were found Krejsa’s presence on campus prolific and helpful, saying that they had either gone to him with problems or been approached by him out of the blue, the knowledge of senators was less wide-spread, with some students noting that they did not know exactly who their senators were.
“I’ll talk with Harry,” Anh Bui ‘13 said, noting that Krejsa had been present at her first meetings at Student Alumni Association and that her experience with the cabinet had encouraged her to become involved in SGA in the near future.
“But who are the Senators?” Bui said.

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