With half the term of senior and Students’ Association President John LaBoda behind him, the president has had made many accomplishments ? and while his cabinet members have nothing but praise for him, there is a mixed response from other members of government and the student body about his performance.
“John listens to people. He doesn’t make rash or hasty decisions,” junior and LaBoda’s Chief of Staff Lonny Mallach said.
The SA Senate, the legislative branch, works closely with LaBoda.
“I think sometimes from the senate perspective, we don’t know exactly what he’s working on,” senior and Speaker of the Senate Bronwen Van Hooft said. “We don’t see the process. He has a portion on our agenda ? and he hasn’t had much to say in the last few months so it’s not clear what he’s working on.”
But Van Hooft said that she was happy with the progress made. “He’s accomplished a lot of projects he’s been working on,” she said. “[LaBoda’s] gotten things done.”
Thus far, the highlights of the term are the pub and the class councils. “The three class councils are working out well. They’re autonomous and people have become involved, especially in the freshman class,” LaBoda said.
The freshman class council was organized one month before the sophomore and junior councils.
“The freshman class council is impressive, the sophomore and junior councils are not as well organized or participated. John was more concerned with the freshman class and and freshman housing and gave them more favorability,” an anonymous member of the SA said.
While LaBoda has delivered on the promises of the class councils and the pub, the Rochester Strive for 4.0 Excellence plan and the representative cabinet he promised in his campaign in the spring have not been developed.
LaBoda said that while the formation of the representative cabinet is still being planned, the merit plan will not happen.
“With talking to administrators I realized that problems would arise,” he said. LaBoda said that there is a relationship between socio-economic status and student grade point average, so that the money would just recycle to those who have money to begin with.
The representative cabinet is still in planning stages. It is a collaborative effort between the cabinet, and the senate.
“It’s kind of silly to organize a [representative cabinet] structure when you’re reorganizing the entire government,” Mallach said. The SA is currently reevaluating its constitution.
The representative cabinet would have an umbrella structure so that different student groups could communicate with each other easily. Many students said that this is one promise that they would like to see fulfilled.
“I don’t know the status of the representative cabinet, I heard about it in the beginning,” junior and cabinet member Emily Faber said. “That’s something that should be done next year.”
“When he ran he supported the idea of the representative cabinet and the Rochester Area Students’ Union should be in place. If he started working on them early, they would have been in place by now,” an anonymous former SA cabinet member said.
The Rochester Area Students Union would be a group of students who would meet with representatives from area colleges to have collaborative programming.
Other members of the student body desire openness from LaBoda.
“He needs to take advantage of open forums, open town meetings like we had on freshman housing and the alcohol policy in the past,” another member of the government said. “We haven’t seen anything like that or even information sessions from the SA president and the cabinet.”
Van Hooft agreed. “I want to see more openness ? spending more time working together, not only with the government but more of a general interaction with student body,” she said. “Do something like our ‘What You Want’ event.”
“From special interest housing’s perspective, I don’t feel that he understands non-Greek special interests,” an executive member on a special interest housing floor said.
“He doesn’t seem to represent the student body well. John tries to work on things that he thinks are important,” he continued.
LaBoda’s cabinet praises him for being proactive and effective.
“Having been a cabinet member last year, I am working five times harder which is a good thing,” Faber said.
While some prefer LaBoda’s cabinet organization, others do not.
“I preferred the old cabinet structure,” a member of the government said. He continued to explain that before cabinet members would generally collaborate on projects, now with specific members responsible for specific tasks, one cabinet member looks bad if some work is not done properly.
LaBoda said that he assigned cabinet members to various areas according to their interests. “I didn’t want to lead by command but by interest,” he said.
His two major plans for next semester are an undergraduate academic research journal and the restructuring of the student government and its constitution. The research journal is a project to present students’ papers. The constitution project is in progress.
“There are institutional problems within the government such as the inequality in class government,” LaBoda said about the constitution project. “Any government model that I have thought of would be a senate just a there is now,” LaBoda continued, putting to rest rumors that he intends to eliminate the senate.
A former member of the SA said, “Scott [Jennings, who was SA president two years ago], was much better. I think that [LaBoda] represents John LaBoda’s resume. I don’t think he is visible. I don’t see him in the [Ruth Merrill Center] and I don’t know if he has office hours.”
Another senior, who is also a cabinet member, disagreed. “He’s definitely better than the last two presidents,” he said.
LaBoda has one more semester left in his term. With his status as a second-semester senior, he plans to be accomplished.
“The energy comes from the top down and I need to be the example,” he said.
Desai can be reached at email@example.com.