By: Mary Stroka, Copy Editor
After two presidents’ resignations, Dominican’s Student Government Association (SGA) finally has a president who has remained in office, and feelings are optimistic. Nevertheless, not everyone is convinced the SGA is addressing all relevant issues.
SGA President Tim Lazicki took office last fall. Since then the SGA has started pushing for 24-hour printing access in the residence halls, an SGA bulletin board on the second floor of Lewis Hall and online elections to supplement the paper system.
Lazicki had been a student senator during the two previous administrations.
“After two presidents resigned, even though they may have had good reasons, I became frustrated with the fact that a crucial organization to student life was having a hard time maintaining leadership,” he said. “I became president with the conviction that I could give the organization the leadership it needed during this time of re-establishment.”
He said he thinks more students now care about SGA because of its success in getting better lighting in the Noonan Reading Room and having CTA passes sold on campus. Lazicki also points to what he says is the administration’s growing trust in the organization.
“They have a lot of good goals and have been serving as a student voice,” said Norah Collins, associate dean of students and SGA adviser. “They’re really trying to have good communication between students and the administration.”
Lazicki warns that student participation is essential for the SGA to do its job properly.
“Senators have been trained to vote as representatives of the student body, but this only works if the students participate,” Lazicki said. “I think this issue will make students very keen about the role that SGA really does play in the university and I would hate for students to choose not to participate and then watch as the university moves in a direction they didn’t want, but didn’t speak against.”
Lazicki said he wants students to voice their opinions by e-mailing SGA at firstname.lastname@example.org or coming to meetings, which are every other Monday at 5:15 p.m. in the Cusack Board Room, to debate the issues. Anyone who comes to a meeting has an opportunity to speak during the meeting’s open floor session.
SGA Vice President Sara Vicente said that Lazicki has been a great president.
“He has set out goals that he felt were needed to be improved within SGA and has completed them,” Vicente said. “I hope SGA can find another president that can improve SGA even more without becoming diminished by the lack of involvement from the student body and stress that goes along with being president.”
Jaron Salazar, who represents student interests on Dominican’s Board of Trustees, says Lazicki has been a positive influence on SGA.
“He has been an instrumental part in turning SGA around and making it a stronger part of Dominican,” Salazar said. “Tim has pushed the board and the senate hard in order to make meetings more meaningful.”
But not everyone is so optimistic. Political Science Professor David Dolence, who monitors the SGA, thinks the group should be working on issues that are more important to students, such as MAP grants, other financial aid and the university’s five-year-plan to continue to be accredited. He also said global citizenship, funding and variety of study abroad programs, annual financial reports from the university, the tuition plan for the next five years, incoming freshman requirements and initiatives like service learning should be of top importance.
“Maybe they’re doing these things, but they’re doing them incredibly covertly,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re being briefed on these things. If they are being briefed they need to discuss these issues and if they’re not being briefed they need to ask about it.”
Dolence suggested SGA mobilize an e-mail campaign on financial aid in which each student from Dominican would send an e-mail to Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk. He said they could also organize a rally at the university and invite reporters from local media or have an open forum on financial aid where the organization could brief students.
The SGA has done some advocating for the lobby day, however. Student government senator Marco Rodriguez advocated for the lobby day at the SGA’s last meeting, for example. Lazicki said the SGA is supportive of Rodriguez and the other students who are trying to advocate for MAP grants. Lazicki said he wants to have the SGA co-sponsor the lobby day by sending senators to lobby on behalf of students.
Dolence said he doesn’t blame Lazicki for what he says is the SGA’s failure to be effective.
“Even though he’s using all the power that’s there, there’s not enough power for him to use effectively,” he said. “He’s not going to change the system, but he can begin to change the system so that the next president actually has something to do.”
Despite the issues Dolence raises, SGA senators and leaders seem confident in their abilities. However, some of them seem to feel students outside of SGA have not been paying much attention.
“I think we have enough power, just not enough influence. Students don’t really pay attention to what we do,” Ben Sostrin, a sophomore senator, said.
“We have had difficulty in getting students to voice their opinions but will be working hard on doing things that have a great impact in order to gain more involvement,” Salazar said. “I hope that the progress we make will not falter in the coming year.”
Applications for next year are available now on the SGA’s section of myDU and are due March 25 at 12 p.m. All positions will be available. The SGA has five senators per class and five leadership positions: president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and student trustee. Descriptions of all roles and their requirements are in the organization’s constitution, which is on the SGA’s section of myDU. GPA required for executive board positions is 2.75 and GPA required for senator positions is 2.5. Online elections will be open for voting at midnight April 4 through midnight April 7, and there will be voting in the Lewis Alcove.