Members of the Students’ Association government met in late August to discuss changing the structure of the SA, which has resulted in a plan to merge the SA Senate Committees and the SA Presidential Cabinet.
“Those two groups will now work together on projects to improve the quality of life for undergraduates at UR,” SA President and senior Chris Calo said. “Once an effective system for communication and collaboration is in place, student government can get to the real issues like dining at Douglass and getting more students off campus to see the city of Rochester.”
All Campus Judicial Council Chief Justice and senior Erica Contini saw problems in the way the SA government functioned last year.
“The first [problem] was the lack of communication within the branches and I think that last year that was one of the major sources of conflict,” Contini said. “The constitution is also very vague in its definition of the role of the SA president [and] the role of the Senate.
“Consequently, both groups find themselves working on similar projects, unnecessarily duplicating the work, and then contradicting one another in the end. There also seemed to be a lack of communication between the student government and the SA groups.
“Just by having the summit itself,” Contini said, “I feel we’ve started to address the past problems student government has had.” The meeting, which lasted seven hours, focused largely on developing mission and vision statements for the student government, and brought members from all three branches of the SA government together.
“To my knowledge, this was the first time that such a great number from all three branches of student government came together on any task,” Calo said of the Aug. 27 planning session. “This is a huge step in the right direction toward creating a student government that works together and realizes its potential influence.
“We are moving towards a unified mission and vision,” Calo said in an e-mail sent to leaders of the SA. “This is the driving force and direction for all of our decisions. Only if we know where we are going will we know if we are going the right direction.”
Dean of The College William Green rejected a proposed increase of the SA fee last year, on the basis that the SA government was “in trouble,” but he was visibly impressed by the SA Summit.
“I think this is extraordinary,” Green said, speaking to the group of leaders in the SA. “You’ve laid a very strong foundation. I’m very pleased with this – and it’s all yours and that’s great.”
Dean of Students Jody Asbury agrees. “I have every confidence that [the students] can do it,” Asbury said. “They are on the right track, but [restructuring the SA government is] a huge undertaking.”
“This is just the beginning,” Calo said. “We still have a lot of decisions to make. I think we’ve got a great start.”
Schnee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.