StuGov seeks to clarify mission in new term

By Stacey Goldberg & Ev Lederman

Photo by Max Ma/ The Lafayette

Current Student Government Vice President Maddie Laskoski '13 with President Matt Grandon '12, and newly elected President and VP Caroline Lang '13 and Sarah Robert '14.
Current Student Government Vice President Maddie Laskoski ’13 with President Matt Grandon ’12, and newly elected President and VP Caroline Lang ’13 and Sarah Robert ’14.

Though nearly half of the student body cast their online vote for the Student Government presidential race this past week, it appears that many students still have questions about the official role of student government on campus.

The StuGov constitution states their role is the “voicing of students’ concerns on matters related to the welfare of the college in general and to the welfare of the student body.” Additionally, they act as a liaison between the students and the administration.

According to President Daniel H. Weiss, it is important for “Student Government to have its ear to the ground as to what the issues are that students find genuinely important because they can vocalize us in all kinds of ways… If there is something I need to know about or something I need to do, that’s a good place for it to happen.”

StuGov representatives are aware of the students’ misconception of their organization and agree that the general perception of them is as a “piggy bank.” As such they have been working to make the student body more aware of their role by enhancing communication.

When the new administration takes office next semester they will institute a structural change in their standing committee chairpersons, as seen in the accompanying diagram (page 4). President Matthew Grandon ‘12, who proposed and constructed the initial plan, did so with the “hopes of facilitating even greater interactions with the student body as a whole and various groups on campus.”

“Because of elections, the student body may have become more aware of Student Government, but I think they will slip back under the radar in a few more weeks,” Rachel Griffths ‘14 said.

Jason Ewer ‘13 said that he had high hopes for the StuGov co-sponsored events at the beginning of the semester, but when it came down to it, not a whole lot was accomplished. “Student Government pays for it, but they don’t really have a big impact.”

In crafting the structural change, along with several other initiatives, Grandon hopes to increase transparency between StuGov and the student body and to promote the different aspects of StuGov beyond the financial provisions: “To make Student Government more efficient, more flexible and better serve the interests of the student population at-large,” Grandon said.

Delta Upsilon President James Maloney ‘12 said that even though he is aware of the current role of StuGov, he does not see them as a useful resource. “In my position as a leader of Greek life, I think I would have more success going straight to the administration … I have people dedicated to working for my organization, such as Stuart Umberger and Celestino Limas. I think that it would be slower for me to go through Student Government if I had a serious problem.”

Another role of StuGov is to host mandated events such as All College Day and The Presidential Ball, but they also provide funds for campus-wide events, such as Fall Fest, Rivalry Weekend and the Spring Concert.

While Fall Fest and Rivalry Weekend, both relatively new events, have been growing in popularity, they have also been using up larger portions of the StuGov budget. As a result, a reallocation of funds has caused the Spring Concert to be an estimated $10,000 less than it has been in previous years.

“It was rough and surprising, but we understand,” LAF President Ellen Hughes ‘13 said. LAF is the student organization in charge of booking the band for the Spring Concert. The budget for the concert is currently around $40,000, according to Hughes. “We’re making it work … We still have great choices,” she said.

The reallocation of the budget for bigger events in the Fall, even if that means cutting the Spring Concert fund, is in line with senior Garret Rice’s idea of improving the StuGov-student relation: “[fewer] events, that are bigger and better,” he said.