Lounge, 14 student organizations offices under construction in Perkins
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 17:09
Last Tuesday the university’s Student Government Association held its first general meeting in Memorial Hall and laid out a plan for the coming year. In order for the organization to have a greater impact on campus life, the board is seeking input from the student body in the form of UDecide, a platform that leaders in SGA are promoting, as the school year gets underway.
“[UDecide] is something that we began last year and we want to definitely push this year,” SGA president Jessica Borcky, a senior, said.
Crafted from the mold of sites like Change.org that encourage public participation in shaping policy, junior Danielle Imhoff, executive vice president of SGA, said UDecide is a way for members of the campus community to anonymously suggest changes they believe will enhance student life.
“It’s like a suggestion box online, so it’s really easy for everybody to use,” Imhoff said. “Everybody at this school has something that they want to change, and if they knew about UDecide then they could type it in—and it’s totally fun—and those changes can and will be heard.”
SGA not only wants students to know the organization exists and is an active part of campus, but students have the ability to provide input, Borcky said.
Imhoff said she thinks there is a value to members of the student body being aware of the student government’s agenda. In order for the government to be transparent, students need to know what is going on with their elected officials, she said.
“I think there’s a difference between being visible and being transparent,” Imhoff said. “So you definitely want to get yourself out there but also have everybody know what we’re doing, so that goes with the whole transparency part of it all. It could be great, and people know our name, but we really want them to know the proposals we’re passing and the events that we’re doing.”
While Tuesday’s general meeting was intended for returning members, there were a few uninitiated in the crowd. Among them was freshman Hirak Mukhopadhyay who said he came away impressed with what he heard.
“I thought it was really exciting,” Mukhopadhyay said. “It was a lot better than I expected. I didn’t really think it would be this well developed and so well planned.”
Entering year two under the current constitution, SGA is looking to build on a successful campaign with the implementation of several new projects. Borcky said the most significant will be the tobacco-free initiative, which was passed last school year and will formally go into effect next July.
A tobacco-free advisory group will be meeting this year to discuss the plan. Borcky said because the plan will be going into effect this summer, there will be a lot of work to be done in the upcoming months.
Along with the tobacco ban, there are several other projects SGA will be monitoring throughout the upcoming school year. Primary among them will be renovations to the Perkins Student Center and the return of SGA bike repair stands.
Marilyn Prime, advisor to the SGA, said a new student lounge is being constructed in Perkins Student Center, where the university bookstore was formerly housed. Students can expect the lounge to be an expanded version of the one that was introduced to the Trabant University Student Center last year, she said.
Another significant change will be the introduction of an RSO community on the lower level of Perkins, she said. The renovations, which are expected to be done by the end of winter session, will allow the 14 student organizations in Perkins to operate out of new offices in close proximity to one another, Prime said.
“I think the goals [they set out] are very good,” Mukhopadhyay said. “As a freshman, you really don’t know what to expect, but it’s definitely something that’s exciting for pretty much anybody.”
The university affairs sector of SGA will be the driving force behind the changes and is a branch set to grow in the coming year. The members of university affairs are aiming to identify concerns and issues while searching for ways to resolve them and enhance life on campus.
For those who want to learn more, SGA is holding interest meetings today and Wednesday at 7:30 in 127 Memorial Hall. University Affairs will also be holding a meeting today at 6 p.m. at the SGA office in Trabant. In addition to visiting UDecide through the web, students can now access it via the university’s iPhone and Android application under the “For Students” tab.