The Ithaca College Student Governance Council met with members of the Office of Public Safety and Energy Management and received a tour of the facilities at its Feb. 27 meeting.
Bill Kerry, executive director of the Office of Public Safety and Energy Management, started a pre-tour conversation by welcoming the SGC to the OPS building. Kerry said the OPS started inviting the SGC for annual events in the OPS building about five years ago in order to be more transparent about public safety on campus, as well as connect with the members of the council.
“Quite frankly, it’s a way to say thank you,” Kerry said. “I’m not in your work every day but have communicated with [this SGC] and many priors … and we’ve collaborated on some really cool stuff.”
Elyse Nepa, assistant director of the Clery Act and Prevention Education within the OPS, said she focuses on working with students to raise awareness on how to prevent emergency situations as much as possible.
“We are going to run an idea by [the SGC] for an advanced bystander intervention training that we’ve recently created to address some trends that we’re seeing on campus and nationally,” Nepa said. “[We are] excited to be able to share that with you and get some feedback.”
Samm Swarts, assistant director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, discussed his new role now that emergency preparedness will be less focused on COVID-19 response alone and instead on emergency preparedness in general. Swarts discussed the Rave Guardian app, which was launched by the OPS in April 2021, and said he hopes to bring additional safety tools to the campus community.
“Emergency preparedness is what keeps us all safe here on a college campus,” Swarts said. “The work that I do, not only with other faculty and staff on campus but with students as well, is really meaningful and important to making sure that we’re all safe and secure.”
Nepa presented on the bystander intervention training that she had mentioned earlier in the meeting. She talked about the bystander intervention program, IC Responsibility, which is a certification program for students to learn different skills to prepare for situations that require immediate response, like first responder training and equity and belonging.
“We wanted to do just something a little bit more because we started to notice that we have students here on our campus and across the country across the world, really, that are experiencing cyberbullying and harassment,” Nepa said.
After the tour, the SGC remained in the OPS building and Senate Chair senior Austin Ruffino began the official meeting by asking senators to give their senator reports. First-year student Caleb Cackowski, senator at large, discussed his membership on the Campus Affairs Committee and announced he will be participating in a mental health training session Feb. 28 as part of the Mental Health and Wellness Committee.
Junior Utkarsh Maini, School of Business senator, discussed his meeting with Michael Johnson-Cramer, dean of the School of Business. Maini said they discussed the new curriculum in the School of Business and how it will impact current and future students. He also said he is trying to make his constituents more aware of his position on the SGC.
Sophomore Cameron Small, Class of 2025 senator, said he met with members of the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services on campus to discuss ways of creating safe spaces for queer people of color. Small said he specifically discussed hosting an event with the center to find people who would be interested in that initiative.
Senior Tessa Kurtz, vice president of academic affairs, said she met with Melanie Stein, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, on Feb. 24 to discuss the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Roy H. Park School of Communications adding their own versions of exploratory programs. She said H&S will have two exploratory programs, one for social sciences and arts and one for natural sciences and math.
Ruffino also said he is starting an Organizational Review Committee, which would allow members of the SGC to discuss changes to its function and structure.
“If there is anything that you like or don’t like about how SGC works in general, please let me know,” Ruffino said. “I have a very big list and I would like to get working on anything that you might want to happen. There are some possibly very big changes that might be happening.”
Student Trustee junior Alexa Rahman concluded the officer reports section of the meeting by talking about the February Board of Trustees meetings. Rahman said the board discussed enrollment strategies, marketing, dining services and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
“Overall, everyone’s really excited that it seems like the dynamic of the campus is changing a little bit,” Rahman said. “It’s starting to be more hopeful than the last few years.”
The SGC is the sole representative body for the Ithaca College student community. The SGC can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.