Student Government reflects on fall semester

Going+forward%2C+Student+Government+would+like+to+improve+communication+with+the+student+body.+

Photo by Jen-Feng Liu for The Lafayette

Going forward, Student Government would like to improve communication with the student body.

From a new constitution to progress on the textbook donation program, Student Government committee directors are happy with the headway they’ve made on projects this semester. They noted, however, that going into the spring semester, there is room for improvement in attendance at meetings and communication with the campus community.

“Student Government has worked to broaden its influence and improve relations with all facets of campus life, including faculty, staff, and students. We have worked to improve transparency, visibility, awareness, and engagement in addition to each committee’s commitment to its passion and objectives,” Student Government president Matwos “Matt” Tadesse ‘24 wrote in an email. “I am incredibly proud of everyone’s dedication and commitment to the goals we set, despite the fact that there is still much work to be done.”

A key success of the Student Government has been the passage of a new constitution and bylaws. After being approved by the Faculty in November and by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 7, the constitution will likely go into effect next semester once a ratification vote is held by the faculty in January. This new constitution will reshape the way Student Government is structured, introduce a yearly instead of semester-based calendar system and potentially streamline operations.

Next semester, members of the Student Government hope to continue the work they began this fall.

Cham said that her ad hoc committee has made progress with the Menstrual Equity project, which aims to provide menstrual product dispensers throughout campus. Cham said that after gathering feedback from the campus community about the project, her ad hoc committee has reached out to facilities as well as the coordinator of Aunt Flow – the company that provides the menstrual products – with plans of increasing the number of dispensers found in dorms and buildings across campus next semester. 

The Student Services Committee, headed by Kelsey Wong ’25, has partnered with L-RAJE to gain community feedback and to speak with the staff at Bailey’s Health Center to ensure that their website is updated and transparent about the costs of services offered. Wong added that her committee hopes to formalize the lost and found box systems on campus.

Director of the Student Organizations Committee Olivia Puzio ‘25 said that the implementation of “club chats,” or annual meetings in which club leaders would meet with the Student Organizations Committee to discuss issues, has been pushed to next semester. The deadline for submissions to the Club Magazine, however, was extended to Jan. 27. 

The Greek Life Committee has streamlined the process of finding and working with philanthropic organizations, according to committee director Jonathan Pursell ‘23. The Academic Affairs Committee, meanwhile, hopes to finalize the textbook donation program and plans to work with the Gateway Career Center next semester to establish an informal networking resource for current students to connect with alumni, committee director Olivia Lattanzi ‘23 said. Sustainability Committee director Remy Oktay ’24 aims to finalize the composting pilot program that has been in the works for the past three years. 

While content with the progress they’ve made this semester, some Student Government members acknowledged that attendance at general body meetings could be better going forward.

According to Student Government’s attendance records, at at least one meeting Student Government did not meet the quorum necessary to vote on items.

“Most of the time, students who could not attend our meetings did so due to scheduled classes or a legitimate rationale given to our secretary,” Tadesse wrote. 

Nevertheless, communication within Student Government has been much better in comparison to past years, members say. Wong noted that changing their meeting space from Kirby 104 to the Dyer Center has fostered the inter-committee work that was lacking in the past.

“[The Dyer Center] is an open space where you can see everyone versus [in Kirby] it was a lecture style thing,” she said.

Although Student Government bolstered its social media presence to keep the community informed and has organized promotional events to increase student interest in events like the Lafayette-Lehigh Rivalry game, communication with the campus community remains an issue, according to Public Relations & Marketing Director Trebor Maitin ‘24. 

“That really stems from, I believe, the culture of Student Government. How do we cultivate something that everyone wants to be a part of and isn’t just a check on one’s resume?” he said. 

Going forward, Maitin said he would like to see general body meetings made open to the public, although the proposition has been opposed by some members of the Executive Board. 

“I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone who collaborated with us and offered suggestions, criticism, and encouragement. It has been a challenging time for all of us, and we have done everything we can to make sure that everyone is heard and acknowledged,” Tadesse wrote.

Disclaimer: Managing Editor Trebor Maitin ’24 is the PR & Marketing director for Student Government and News Editor Emma Chen ’24 is a representative on the Equity and Inclusion Committee. Neither contributed writing or reporting to this story.