Plans for spring term are underway
With an eventful fall semester under its belt, the 2009-10 Student Government Association (SGA) is gearing up for an ambitious spring.
One of SGA's main goals is to develop a Student Rights and Responsibilities Bill. Especially in light of April 12, 2009, SGA President Jake Fischer '10 said he was looking through the student handbook for an outline of Colby students' rights on the Hill. There was no clear definition, and SGA has sought to correct that. It has drafted a document that "hopefully will be a part of the handbook at some point," Fischer said.
The document will be "as succinct a summary as possible" of these Vice President Katie Unsworth '10 said. The SGA Executive Board noted that the administration has been very enthusiastic and supportive of the bill.
Publicity Chair Ricky Schwartz '11 has been working to orchestrate the second annual Winter Carnival, a revival of an old College Tradition. Clubs from across campus have jumped on board and are working together to make the weekend a success. It will take place this coming weekend, February 12-14. See page seven for more details in the Carnival.
SGA also plans to address the widespread issue of dorm damage this semester. One tactic will be a publicity campaign, which would involve posting pictures of damage or asking dorm presidents to publish a report of damage and fines accumulated within their residence halls.
As for the budget, "[SGA was] lucky enough to have a surplus" in the budget last fall, Treasurer Audell Scarlett '10 said. SGA continued the free newspaper program during JanPlan 2010, which is something that has never been done before and the Executive Board said it believed enriched the student body.
A new SGA?innovation this year is the opportunity for individual students to apply for funding, an addition to the community which the Executive Board said was a success last semester. It will continue in the spring.
"If [a proposal] works and it's in line with SGA's mission then we'll do our best to make these kind of things happen," Scarlett said.
In addition to the new things added to its agenda, SGA will further three initiatives from the fall: the Housing and Facilities Advisory Committee (HFAC) proposal, the Colby Clothing Closet and SGA's student survey initiative.
Perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking experiences for students is room draw. SGA has finalized HFAC's recommendation to reform the process and improve its efficiency. These improvements will be implemented by denoting time slots for specific numbers during room draw and limiting the amount of time that students have to choose their room, thereby cutting down on the long waits that many face come room draw each spring.
Many of the HFAC proposal recommendations are aimed at providing seniors with "the best possible housing," Parliamentarian Julie Achenbaum '10 said. The proposal would increase senior quotas in all dorms from 25 to 50 percent. It would also "implement block housing in unrenovated Frat Row and Hillside dorms," she said. These blocks would essentially function as a suite; a group of doubles and triples would be bundled together, and the student who selected the block could pull in his or her friends. Fischer said it would be "a pilot program this year." Schwartz noted that block housing worked for students in the past, citing the Colby Gardens as an example.
HFAC has been meeting last year but really started to pick up steam last spring and this past fall. The committee submitted its proposal in November and expects to get a response from Campus Life and the administration soon. The committee was made up of Achenbaum, Sophomore Class Co-President Justin Rouse '12 and a mix of dorm presidents from both "chem-free" and "chem-full" dorms. HFAC worked closely with Campus Life on the proposal.
Fischer is particularly excited to open the Colby Clothing Closet, a project he headed last fall. The Closet is a compilation of business clothes that students can borrow for job interviews, as dressing well is an important but often financially difficult part of entering the work force. The Closet will help alleviate this burden.
After Fischer and Unsworth approached trustees at the Board of Trustees meeting in January, more clothes have been rolling in and the Closet is about ready to open. In addition, Fischer will ask for donations from the local Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club.
The clothing will be laundered by Lazy Mule Laundry and can be tailored in downtown Waterville.
The Closet offers an alternative venue for parents and alumni to give to the College: "People who can't donate money per current economic issues can donate clothes," Unsworth said.
Lastly, SGA will follow up on its survey from last fall addressing ways to improve Pulver Pavilion, the student center. There were about 300 responses. The most popular included displaying student art, getting more comfortable furniture, installing a mural or a statue, putting up a big clock and extending Pulver's hours (the building currently closes at 1 a.m.) Some suggestions focused on improving Fireside Lounge through a take-a-book, leave-a-book program and holding community fires, which SGA will try to do every other week. Others suggested utilizing Lo-Po--the Lower Programming space--better.
SGA is taking these suggestions into account. The Executive Board predicted that getting student artwork up and holding fires in the Fireside Lounge will be the first changes students will see. However, SGA will be working with Dining Services, Security, Campus Life and the Physical Plant Department to address the security, safety and cost implications of keeping Pulver open later, or perhaps all day. Pulver could be used as a group study space on late nights. The Executive Board also pointed out that walking around Pulver to cross campus at night can be inconvenient, not to mention scary, during the early morning hours.
Elections for next year are also coming up in SGA, so students should keep their eyes peeled for more information as students announce their candidacies and begin their campaigns.