SGA gears up, kicks off 2009-10
This year the Student Government Association (SGA) covered what used to be an entire weeklong, summertime orientation into one intense, nine-hour introduction on Sunday afternoon. The change was made because of last year's amendment to the SGA constitution moving dorm president elections to the fall. "I didn't know what to expect as a first year dorm president, and I had heard that the meetings sometimes get a little chaotic, but I thought Sunday went really well and set a great standard for how the rest of the year will hopefully go," Treworgy President Shreya Balakrishna '12 said.
SGA members began orientation at noon in the Millet House, learning and reviewing their general responsibilities--what their roles are as dorm/class presidents, what their roles are both in SGA and as leaders on campus--as well as more technical aspects of the job, like how to write and introduce a movement and proper meeting etiquette. Representatives then went through the Campus Culture Working Group (CCWG) report, held a mock meeting, and enjoyed a kickoff dinner.
The main event of the day, SGA's first formal meeting of the year, finally started at 7 p.m. in the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center (SSW?Alumni Center). The hot topic of the meeting was, appropriately, one of the hottest topics among students on campus and on the digest of civil discourse this semester: the CCWG-proposed "ban" on hard alcohol and other changes to the alcohol policies.
The CCWG report was introduced by special guests Mavrick Afonso '11, a representative of the CCWG, and Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Jim Terhune. Afonso gave a brief introduction of his role on CCWG as a student representative, a role in which he says, "we [students] were very vocal about every issue." An hour-long discussion ensued, in which Publicity Chair and acting scribe, Ricky Schwartz '11, typed over nine pages of notes.
While the general sentiment of the representatives was an acceptance of the recommendations (SGA has no authority to approve or disapprove the report, only an opportunity to offer its opinion to the Board of Trustees), everyone agreed that this is merely a first step in the effort to reform campus culture, mandated by the Board after the Champaign on the Steps senior celebration was terminated in 2008. CCWG?representatives repeated phrases such as "opportunity" and "a step in the right direction" dozens of times, and Class of 2012 President Justin Rouse called the report "a powerful tool to start change at Colby."
While Terhune commended students for discussing the proposed limit on hard alcohol, he said, "A number of people who have been commenting on the digest haven't actually read the document."
Recently elected Class of 2013 President Lester Batiste said, "I don't have anything to compare it to as this is my first semester of college, but one thing that did shock me was the statistic of two to three alcohol related incidents per weekend, and I think in that regard we have some steps to take. To get that number down would be a big improvement."
SGA hopes to bring a representative from Security to come to the next formal meeting, as most members of the SGA and the student body as a whole still don't totally understand the change in security protocol. Terhune summed it up: "When security is responding to situations, it should be because the situations are already calling attention to themselves...we don't want [Security] to give off the impression of 'lurking in the shadows.'"
The Board of Trustees review the CCWG's recommendations for approval later this semester. Afonso supports his group's document and its mission fully. "We have a lot more going for us in this community than alcohol," he said.