With the spring semester well underway, the Student Government Association has been actively working towards focusing their mission around enacting and enforcing new campus legislation in order to create a more student-friendly environment.
This past fall, SGA initiated a new campus-wide smoking policy. After initiatives created last school year to improve health on campus, SGA passed regulations outlining new outdoor smoking areas. With the help of Campus Security, SGA created signs and re-located ashtrays and furniture to their current designated locations. This semester, members are working to co-sponsor an event with Campus Security, “to educate the student body about the new smoking policies,” SGA President Sara Vicente said.
This new policy, although done to secure health for the student body, is controversial because some think SGA has not carried out these policies to the best of their capabilities. Sophomore Dwaine Porter points out that the smoking areas are unclear and there are not enough signs designating approved locations. The access to the locations is also an issue at times, especially recently considering the constantly changing weather. “During winter, smoking areas are not kept up,” says Porter, in reference to a smoking area at the Priory Campus. After the last big snowfall, plows pushed snow piles directly in front of the entrance to the designated smoking area in front of the garden.
With this policy being brand new SGA is working to help students understand that the policy is in place to benefit the student body. Sophomore Brandon Forrest says smokers are also a little upset about the new policies, but believes they are effective. “I think they do a good job for the most part,” Forrest said.
Last semester, SGA also collaborated with Physical Plant and IT to provide a filtered water dispenser and network printer in the Coughlin Commons to accommodate resident students. This became a focal point because water fountains in the residence halls often do not work, and many students have complained in the past about having to leave the residence halls to print out assignments.
SGA already has a lot on its plate to accomplish this spring. They are currently helping Student Involvement by overseeing the organization development judiciary process necessary for reviewing and approving constitutions, as well as reviewing budgets for annually funded groups.
The group will also soon be focusing on officer elections in late March. “[We] encourage students to vote in our second annual online elections in March,” Vicente says. SGA will be looking to fill open positions within the Senate and University Committees, all seats which are up for grabs.
Along with moving new policies forward, SGA is striving to spark interest in more students across campus. Members of SGA work to stress the idea that general meetings are not only open for all students, but a good way to listen and speak up about issues across campus. Between tables at Involvement Fairs to flyers and banners created on behalf of Secretary Jonathan Rodriguez and the Publicity Committee, SGA tries to attract as many new people as possible to the organization.
Norah Collins, faculty adviser for SGA, says that speaking up at meetings “allows students to use their voice in constructive ways.” SGA strives to approach student concerns first before any other initiatives that have to get done. “We’re focusing on Dominican as a whole, [but mainly] with students and student organizations,” says Elizabeth Dunn, SGA student trustee.
“I don’t feel like a lot of people know about SGA efforts. I only know because I’m involved,” says Porter, who is not a member of SGA but who serves as treasurer for Resident Student Association and Black Student Union. And even though he does not necessarily want to become involved with SGA, Forrest thinks the organization should send mass emails to students simply to publicize about what they’re doing. “I just like to be informed,” he says.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, SGA held a Meet and Greet in the Lewis Alcove. Students had the opportunity to meet executive members and gather information about upcoming events.
On Feb. 14, SGA will welcome the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest to campus to provide students with information and encourage them to become registered voters in time for the March 20 presidential primary election.
SGA is also hoping to host another Town Hall meeting so students can voice their concerns directly to faculty.
Students who are interested in SGA still have plenty of opportunities to attend general meetings this semester. Their next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 in the Cusack Board Room.
– Jackie Glosniak, Staff Writer