Ithaca College is at an important crossroads. We’re rebranding, and we’ve created a strategic plan. While these decisions are made at the top, the people who they affect the most are frequently the students at the bottom. It’s more important than ever that as the college changes, the student voice is loud, forceful and clear.
That’s where Student Government Association comes in. We’re composed of 24 senators and six executive board members whose job it is to represent the student body to the administration. We’re re-evaluating the ways that SGA does business, and we want to have the students involved.
This year, we’re looking to increase student input on big campus decisions. Many administrative resolutions are currently made with little or no student voice. Considering these decisions have a direct, tangible effect on the student body, and tuition accounts for a majority of the college’s annual revenue, SGA feels this is unfair and must be corrected.
We’re also looking to change the way SGA communicates. We hope to maintain clear lines of communication with the students that go beyond the typical posters, Ithacan ads and Facebook messages. Students can expect every senator to hold “access hours” in locations all over campus. We’ll be at floor meetings, events and dining halls to hear what students want to see improved at the college, what SGA can do better and what new ways students can get involved in the process.
For student organizations, we have some exciting changes to our funding process: It is now entirely online. SGA Treasurer Rob Hohn created a system where groups can submit budget requests digitally, which saves paper and hassle. The process will be streamlined and will make student organizations more vibrant, involved and active.
The current executive board was elected on the promise that it would finish and present the Vehicular Transportation Proposal, the campus shuttle proposal. Our vice president of campus affairs is working hard to achieve that goal. If the college wants to be truly sustainable, it must free itself from the automotive culture that clogs our parking lots and pollutes our air. The shuttle is a solution to not only shortening long walks to class, but also increasing parking space while reducing our carbon footprint. The late-night service TCAT is offering this semester is one step in the right direction, but it doesn’t do enough to address these problems. Our shuttle proposal will be more comprehensive, and we feel it will do more to address the problems.
In a broader sense, we’re looking to foster a stronger Ithaca College community. We all know that the college lacks the school spirit that pervades other universities across the nation. We’re looking to fix that. One new program we have in the works would sell spirit gear to raise funds for grants to aid students for whom the college has become unaffordable because of emergency circumstances. Kansas State University successfully piloted a similar program, K-State Proud, which could be successful here.
This is a pivotal time for the college and its students who have a unique position to influence the future of this school beyond the four years they’re here. But this can only happen by getting involved. SGA is working to make the college a better place, but we need help from the student body. We can’t make the community better without this support. We can’t make the student voice heard without the students. But no matter what, stay engaged, involved and active on campus.
Rob Flaherty is the vice president of communications of Student Government Association. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org