In partnership with the SGA Senate, The Crusader took some time this week to interview the two pairs of candidates running for SGA Co-President for the 2017-2018 academic year. The Co-Presidents head the SGA Executive Cabinet and work to represent all students on campus. Given this major responsibility, we asked Donnie Stephens ‘18, Maggie Scanlon ‘18, Conor Carey ‘18, and Liv Paulo ‘18 how they plan to execute their duties as Co-Presidents in four main areas: vision, initiatives, Cabinet, and the College administration.
- VISION: What is your vision for next year’s Cabinet? What kind of administration will you be, and what are some concrete steps you will take to put that vision into place?
Stephens & Scanlon: The words “unity” and “transparency” will guide our cabinet and co-presidency next year. Transparency on all levels—within the cabinet, with the administration, and with the student body—will help us achieve our many goals as an SGA. We will achieve this through institutionalizing listening sessions and town halls that bring student leaders, students, and College administrators together for crucial conversations. We will continue to prioritize student outreach through surveys and social media. Lastly, we will leverage Cabinet office hours to encourage dialogue between RSOs and relevant cabinet members. We believe that these efforts, together, will increase awareness of SGA initiatives and create a system that works for everyone. Another platform of our campaign that we hope to bring to our administration is unity. We hope to foster unity within the Student Government Association itself. We will bring student-leaders across the Association’s Senate, Judicial Council, and Executive Cabinet together through joint retreats and working sessions. We will facilitate weekly meeting of the Senate, Judicial Council, and Cabinet leadership to share ideas and plan initiatives. These concrete steps, together with your guidance, will help us lead an SGA that is transparent and united.
Carey & Paulo: We respect and are inspired by the SGA administrations that have come before us. Our vision for next year’s cabinet is to be visible, accessible, and passionate. Some of the concrete steps that we are ready to take are assigned times in Cool Beans to meet with students, honesty and transparency about the communication with administration, and initiating dialogue with students and administration. We also recognize the limits of an academic year: the mission of every initiative is to plant a seed that will enhance the experience for students in the years to come. We will look both near and far as we set our goals and think about the impact of them.
- INITIATIVES: What will be your #1 initiative for the 2017-2018 academic year? What aspects of the student experience will you prioritize?
Stephens & Scanlon: Our most immediate initiative will be to work with the Office of Residence Life and Housing to finalize a more transparent off-campus housing selection process. We are already poised to take this issue head on. As a member of the executive cabinet this year, Donnie worked with Res Life administrators to draft a new housing selection timeline. Maggie is a key member of the Senate who produced an position paper to express students’ concern with the current system. Our efforts upon taking office will ensure that the new and more transparent timeline is followed, and that the Office of Residence Life takes more proactive steps towards informing the student body of off-campus housing policies and procedures. In doing so, we hope to make access to off-campus living more accessible to those students who seek the experience of living on their own during their senior year. Beyond that, we will work throughout the year to improve the academic, pre-professional, dining, and study abroad aspects of student life.
Carey & Paulo: Our first initiative of the 2017-2018 academic year will be to revitalize the way that campus events are communicated at the College. We believe that every student on campus has something that they are passionate about—we don’t doubt for a second that the students at Holy Cross are empathetic people. A challenge that we have noticed throughout our time here is that it is not always easy to witness engagement from everyone on campus. Because the power of change lies within the students, their engagement is critical. We want to expand the magnitude of outreach- so more people know about Rehm events, and RSO and MSO programs. Support within our community will be strengthened when boundaries of communication are crossed.
- CABINET: Do you plan to restructure Cabinet or add new positions? What type of people do you plan to include in your Cabinet?
Stephens & Scanlon: Not only are we excited to assemble a cabinet of students that share our same work ethic, dedication, and vision for a better Holy Cross, we are also excited to work with a phenomenal group of students passionate about making a change. We will assemble a cabinet that closely mirrors the unique experiences, interests, and ideas that each of you bring to this community. To that end, we will recruit students from a diversity of backgrounds across all four class years. We will look to relevant RSO experience as a qualification for certain cabinet positions. For example, a candidate for SGA Director of Environmental Concerns that has demonstrated experience with HC Fossil Free or EcoAction, or has served as their residence hall’s environmental liaison, will be highly considered. Lastly, we hope to prioritize student outreach in the way that we structure our cabinet next year. We will look into the creation of a new “Officer for Student Outreach” position that will coordinate with the SGA directors of communication, academic affairs, residence life, athletics, and campus services to gather your feedback and institute your ideas on relevant areas affecting student life at Holy Cross.
Carey & Paulo: We hope to bring people into cabinet that are passionate and enthusiastic. We will create a cabinet that seeks to strengthen the community of Holy Cross by attending to the mosaic of identities and needs put forth by our student body. Furthermore, we want people who are eager to support one another. The programming and advocacy that take place in cabinet are most productive when the directors actively support one another. The most immediate restructuring of cabinet that will take place is the addition of an abroad/semester away liaison and a position that not only attends to our off-campus relations but our students off campus.
- ADMINISTRATION: What kind of relationship do you hope to have with the College administration? As it stands now, what are some areas for improvement in the administration and how do you plan to approach them?
Stephens & Scanlon: We have five years of SGA experience between the two of us, in both Executive Cabinet and Senate roles. In these five years, we have found that the College administration and SGA work well together, but usually only after the College administration makes a decision themselves, to which SGA feels compelled to respond. The off-campus housing situation and the effort to reinstate a student vote on the Academic Governance Council are two examples of this. As co-presidents, we will expect the College administration to bring student leaders to the decision-making table. Only when students’ voice is considered in administrators’ actions can we fully recognize the “shared responsibility for the life and governance of the College” called for in the Holy Cross Mission Statement. We will hold a Holy Cross student-leader and administrator networking event early in the semester to ensure that SGA members meet their counterparts in the administration. We will invite College administrators to attend the annual State of the Association address to hear about ongoing initiatives. We believe that these ideas and the ones described above will create the kind of credibility and atmosphere that SGA needs to effectively engage with the Holy Cross administration.
Carey & Paulo: We hope to have an honest relationship with the College administration founded off of frequent communication. SGA exists as a body for students yet our role would be remiss if it did not also include the administration’s voice. We recognize that it is crucial to understand where they are coming from: honest and frequent dialogue with administration will allow us to understand our surroundings and enable us to achieve what our peers have asked us to advocate for. We want to remedy the dissatisfactions that students feel—i.e. off campus housing, health services, dining—and mobilize the emotion into action. We want to praise the formation of a student committee to discuss the renaming of Mulledy Hall. We believe that it is collaboration like such—with dedicated students and an attentive administration—that improvements can be made.
Make sure to have your voice heard this week when voting goes live on Moodle! Elections will run from Tuesday, February 21 at noon to Thursday, February 23 at noon. Additionally, don’t forget to attend the Co-Presidential Debate on Monday, February 20 at 8 p.m. in the Hogan Copy Center to learn more about the candidates’ platforms and make an informed democratic decision. Good luck to all of the candidates!
Photo courtesy of headsup.boyslife.org