After a delayed start, Student Government gears up for the academic year

Among+the+goals+for+Student+Government+this+semester+is+to+encourage+more+community+service.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Pierson+White+24%29

Among the goals for Student Government this semester is to encourage more community service. (Photo courtesy of Pierson White ’24)

Emma Chen

With the semester four weeks underway, Lafayette Student Government and the new executive board have started meeting and planning for the upcoming academic year. Student Government has started much later than usual, noting both the need for a mental health break over the summer and the recent rise in COVID-19 as reasons for this delay.

“I wanted to take a little break during the summer and start things up in September instead of late August because I thought maybe everybody just needed a little break,” Student Government President Flor Caceres ‘22 said. “Everyone’s been very understanding, and we’re all ready to go back to work on many of the different issues.”

Director of Greek Life Hank Scheffler ‘22 emphasized that despite the pandemic’s setback, all of Student Government is excited to begin working with the student body for the 2021-22 year.

“It has been difficult in the initial weeks to organize our retreat, [executive board] and general body meetings with the rise in cases,” Scheffler wrote in an email. “However, the enthusiasm is clear and we are starting to get settled.”

Looking forward to future initiatives, Student Government members noted their excitement towards many of the activities being organized. One of the biggest upcoming events is another forum, similar to the one held during Student Government elections to get to know the candidates.

“We’re planning something like an opening forum so people can get to know Student Government and get to know exec since we did a very helpful candidate forum last semester,” Student Government Vice President Thalia Charles ‘22 said.

Caceres noted that the growing demand from students on campus for this type of forum and said that the opportunity to speak bluntly and directly to those leading them is incredibly important to the student body.

“People on campus just want to make sure that there is a forum for them to come to and question what is expected of our directors,” Caceres said.

Another project that Charles is looking towards is the creation of a sexual health center for Lafayette students. Student Government members and directors have the ability to pursue individual initiatives, and Charles is thinking about undertaking this as her year-long development.

Furthermore, Caceres wants to get Student Government and the student body much more involved in community service around the campus and the larger Easton community.

“I know a lot of my executive members were really excited when I brought up the idea of doing more in terms of community service programs like Holiday Helpers,” Caceres said. “I don’t know how Landis [Center for Community Engagement] will do it this year because I know last year they did it with an Amazon wish list, but we definitely want to look at all avenues and possibilities of trying to help out with our community members in Easton.”

One of the last large projects that Student Government is looking towards is an internal audit. After the controversies surrounding the executive board last semester, they are trying to make this semester one of transparency.

“Another thing that we will be doing is an internal audit of the Student Government and seeing where our strengths are, what committees need help and where our weaknesses exist as an organization internally and externally within the student body,” Charles said.

Another possible change within Student Government that has become an ongoing conversation is the debate regarding whether or not to change the name of the Greek Life committee to the Student Involvement Committee.

“Before we had the switching of directors last year, it was transitioning more away from Greek Life and more into student involvement,” Charles said. “So what I believe will likely happen is that the name will be changed and there will just be one director.”

“I think that I have advocated a good case for a shift from ‘Greek Life’ towards ‘Student Involvement,'” Scheffler wrote. “The precedent thus far has been various clubs and organizations organizing events for the school unilaterally. I believe that a committee focused directly on involvement for all students is overdue.”

Regarding the transition of leadership on the executive board, Charles noted that the dialogue between the previous president, Mary Zimmerman ’21, and the current president made the switch of executive boards much easier for everybody involved. 

“I definitely think the transition of leadership has been good because last semester, the previous president and Flor were in communication about transitioning Flor in,” Charles said. “We also have some new members of exec, we have some old members and people who have switched roles like myself. So it’s like that combination has allowed us to build on the strengths that we had last year and also to evaluate the things that we have been doing well.”

Student Government is made up of nine subcommittees, each run by its own director. So far this semester, the committees have been active.

“All of the committees are meeting and they’re being really productive,” Charles said. “I definitely think that the committees are starting to gear up for the semester, and it will be exciting to see what projects they’ll be able to accomplish this year going forward.”

Caceres echoed this comment and noted that her directors are helping her throughout her transition into the role, as she had never previously served as an executive director.

“I really love my directors and I think they’re very communicative,” Caceres said. “They’re really giving me more insight into what it is that I need to be doing and what it is that we need to be working on together.”

Overall, many in the Student Government body are excited for the direction it seems to be going in regarding the increase in diversity of thought and roles within the Lafayette community.

“Also in Student Government and the general student body, I think that we have a very diverse group of people in terms of not just our backgrounds, but also in terms of our strengths and our involvements in school,” Charles said.

“The new exec is some of the most credible people that I have watched grow over the last three to four years,” Scheffler said. “The love for Lafayette is tangible in our meetings and I know that it will become evident as the semester shifts back to normal.”

Disclaimer: Emma Chen ’24 is a member of the Equity and Inclusion Committee of Student Government. Lucie Lagodich ’22 is an executive director on Student Government.