Graphic by Alexandra Parris
Like every Student Government Association (SGA) administration, the members of the current SGA have formed committees in their first weeks in office in order to address focused issues on campus. However, this year, these committees are different.
Senators occupy these groups within SGA to try to work on issues around campus. Historically, each committee had a single focus, and once that issue was resolved, the committee would disband unless the next administration decided to continue it.
To increase the longevity of committees, SGA elected to create committees written into SGA’s bylaws. The committees would have broader scopes than before, allowing for easier transitions between administrations.
“Our idea is to fully write them into the SGA bylaws, which is our document that tells us how to operate. Obviously, next year if the next president says ‘I don’t like these committees’ he can change them, but we’re hoping to make them good enough this year that they’ll stay and be built upon every following year. There will definitely be changes in the future but just by making a good committee and writing a bylaw we hope they’ll stick around for awhile,” said junior Kenneth Clouston, vice president of SGA.
Junior Ty Tinker, president of SGA, brought the initiative to create new committees to SGA this year after seeing in inefficiency in previous years.
“When I entered in this year I believed that we were spread a little bit too thin. We had a lot of really great initiatives that were hard to manage because it really just one or maybe two senators pushing these forward. To get things done, especially as a student in the school where nobody really wants to listen to you unless you have a really powerful voice or powerful theme, you have to have great resources,” Tinker said.
After senate review, the committees focused on textbook affordability, menstrual products and sustainability were all condensed into the new public relations committee, which was Clouston’s idea. None of the old committees have been completely disbanded, but some have been archived for the time being.
As a result, the total number of SGA committees went down from 10 to five. The dining committee, the public relations committee, the diversity and inclusion committee joined the previously-established constitutional review committee and the finance committee as permanent committees that will exist from year to year.
“Those two that are already there are kind of just functionality ones. Those are part of integral functions of student government. These new three are more focused on the rest of the student body. Cabinet is not perfect, and we may see a need for something arise that doesn’t fit within the category of one of these committees. And if that happens, it’s not too hard to establish a new committee again moving forward,” Tinker said.
The finance committee is directly under Clouston since, as vice president, he directs the budget. The committee handles the budget requests of $1500 or less.
The constitutional review committee reviews and interprets the SGA Constitution, proposing changes when needed.
At the SGA Senate meeting on Feb. 20, the senators began joining committees and writing goals and mission statements for each committee.
“I think one of the reasons why we were able to recreate all of these committees is because out of the senators from last year, only one of them returned. Because there was such a low turnover, there weren’t those people to have those leadership positions anymore. That kind of created a need for a total revamping since there were no more leaders of committees, as a way to continue some of the initiatives that SGA had started previously,” said Taylor Volzer, junior senator.
The dining committee is headed by junior senator Josephine Van Houten, who hopes the committee will become the main voice connecting Trinity students and Dining Services.
“The most important thing that will come from the dining committee is constant communication between a group representing the students and Aramark. I think this could potentially solve a lot of issues in itself, since the decentralized approach of giving feedback to Aramark does not allow students to know what is already being worked on. This way, when students give feedback to the SGA dining committee, we can inform them of pending changes that are perhaps already in progress. We foresee this including issues of diversification of meals, general feedback, positive or negative, or specific situations that students would like addressed,” Van Houten wrote over email.
Already this year, the dining committee has met with Charles Robles, Food Service Director, and succeeded in ensuring that the omelet station in Mabee is reconfigured to avoid cross-contamination of meats for those with dietary restrictions.
Sophomore senator Nick Pereda was recently appointed as the head of the new Public Relations committee and already has a few upcoming projects.
“In the (hopefully near) future, we’re planning on sending out a poll to the student body to gauge both the awareness and satisfaction levels of our current programs to get a sense of what is and isn’t working so that we can be more informed when planning new legislation,” Pereda wrote over email. “We are also planning on increasing our social media presence so that students will be able to communicate with us without having to go out of their way and come to meetings when they can’t or don’t want to. We are also planning on trying to increase student body attendance at SGA meetings by reaching out to a few different departments that have some relation to what we do in SGA and coming up with ways to make SGA more approachable and appealing,”
Volzer heads the new diversity and inclusion committee and is working to contact other departments and creates new initiatives to introduce more inclusiveness in all aspects of the Trinity community.
“For the diversity and inclusion committee, we brought our concerns about the structure of preliminary meetings to the senate and were able to spend the last meeting creating a list of questions to better increase the functionality of the meetings to help improve the funding process,” Volzer wrote in an email. “Going forward, we have a couple ideas of issues we wish to tackle, such as possibly meeting with different department like Reslife and Admissions and how to use SGA to better the inclusiveness not only within our organization, but throughout campus, but haven’t formed any set plans yet as we are trying to make our committee as productive as possible and find out how our committee fits into the other efforts going on on-campus. Our main long term goal remains to be to improve the climate surrounding elections to encourage more to run and address any concerns that lie with that. In order to do that we are trying to plan a meeting with [Trinity Diversity Connection] exec. in the coming weeks to discuss how each of our organizations can best serve each other.”
According to Volzer, the committees will continue to develop as issues arise.
“If there’s a need for something else and what we’re doing isn’t working, we’re going to be open to fixing that,” Volzer said. “It’s always hard to hear about everything that’s going on on campus, and that’s another thing that SGA’s working on this year. It’s a difficult way to establish that communication, but we’re hoping having different aspects of people committed and revamping these committees that should help that a little bit.”
| Class of 2021 | Majors: Urban Studies |