By Allyson Noenickx, Chief News Editor
On May 1, Donnie Stephens ’18 and Maggie Scanlon ’18 officially took office as Student Government Association (SGA) Co-Presidents. Scanlon and Stephens were elected by the student body in February. Already the pair has assembled their Executive Cabinet and begun work on several initiatives.
“Our guiding question for the year is what are offices and parts of the administration doing now to help students, and how can we help them improve that,” said Stephens. Stephens and Scanlon addressed the recent grievances with the Office of Residence Life and Housing specifically. “The biggest problem that we had with this situation was the lack of communication from the Office of Residence Life and Housing,” said Stephens, who served on the housing committee commissioned last fall. “The biggest goal of the off-campus committee was that we hold Residence Life accountable with actually communicating with students. Our plan moving forward is just to make sure that the Office of Residence Life and Housing sticks to the timeline––the information session and application timeline that we helped draft.”
Stephens and Scanlon have already
made a number of structural changes within SGA. They created a new cabinet position for managing SGA’s social media accounts––director of public relations––which will be held by Anthony Saltarelli ’18. This decision stemmed from Stephens and Scanlon’s campaign which they ran remotely, relying heavily on social media to reach voters and get their platform across. “We got a lot of great feedback from it, so one of our main goals is to use social media and use that to our advantage to connect with students,” explained Scanlon. The pair also decided to combine the intern coordinator and director of programming positions––a role which will be filled by Isabella Cuellar ’18. Additionally, they hope to work closely with Speaker of the Senate Claire Connolly ’18 to streamline processes between the two branches and collaborate on initiatives like their respective intern programs.
“Our biggest accomplishment so far has been the team that we’ve put together. I have a lot of faith that the cabinet directors that we have assembled are going to be some of the best representatives from the student body that you can find,” said Stephens.
Stephens and Scanlon are most excited about commissioning a standing committee on diversity and inclusion that will be chaired by their chief diversity officer, Tess Andrekus ’18. This committee will be charged with determining how to diversify the groups of students that both apply and run for positions within SGA. “The committee will also be charged with generally coming up with ideas on how we can improve campus climate and start to bridge some of the divides that I think we have between groups of students on campus,” said Stephens. “I want our SGA to be the one that finally starts cracking away at the question of how can we be inclusive to students of all backgrounds and how can we better serve students of all backgrounds. This committee is something that’s really important to me and something that I think will be the right first step.” Scanlon added that while they know this process will take many years, they hope that their administration can start to ameliorate these chronic issues.
As foreign affairs correspondent this past year, Scanlon hopes to work with the Office of Study Abroad to achieve greater transparency and discuss the current limitations on single semester programs. The new director of academic concerns, Julia Palmerino ’18, is also currently reviewing the process for transferring major requirements back to Holy Cross in an effort to make it more flexible.
In terms of dining, Scanlon and Stephens hope for greater transparency and student participation in decision making. “That’s our goal all around––to be more transparent,” said Scanlon.
As director of communications this past year, Stephens set the groundwork with Ed DeLuca ’17 for a screen sharing initiative to share content on screens across campus. This will prevent students from self selecting, as they will be exposed to all news regardless of which buildings they spend their time in. “I’m excited for this initiative because I think it will really help MSOs to spread their message around campus. I think it will really increase the number of students that attend these events and go to these spaces that MSOs have set up to discuss some of the most pressing issues on our campus,” said Stephens, who hopes to start this program as early as September.
Scanlon and Stephens also reflected on why they were compelled to run for office initially. “I’ve had great friends, great mentors that have come from SGA so it was kind of just a natural step to go for co-president. It was something that I always had my eye on,” said Scanlon, who is beginning her fourth year with SGA. As for Stephens, “The work that I did on the off campus issue last semester was a huge determinant for me. I was empowered and humbled by the fact that I was in a position to help [my friends]. It was them who I kept in mind when I was having my meetings in ResLife and saying, the stuff that you’re doing in your office has real-life effects on the lives of students here on campus. I got a little bit of an addiction to––if you will––serving students and meeting with administrators to ensure that they’re doing the best that they can for students. Our guiding principle will be, how can we get the College and the administration to better serve students? Because it’s so true that the decisions they make affect every aspect of our lives while we’re on the Hill and I’m honored to be in a position to help.”