On Sunday, Sept. 29, the Student Government Organization (SGO) Executive Board and Senate met from 9:15 to 10:30 p.m. in SCI 199. President Kat Capossela ‘21 facilitated the meeting and began with a series of icebreakers to discuss student inclusion and on-campus job wages. Depending on their position on a specific issue, students stood around the room and shared their opinions.
Tyler White ‘22, the Chair of Academic Affairs, followed up the icebreakers with a list of group norms, which addressed personal issues, accountability, conscientiousness, and openness to criticism. SGO members were able to provide feedback about how the group norms could be revised and condensed.
Following the discussion of group norms, Capossela split up the governing body into small groups to decide on the theme of October’s town hall meeting in the Shane Lounge, the first of a series of monthly talks for SGO to interact with students. Potential theme ideas included focusing on mental health, introducing SGO’s goals and services, and getting to know Swarthmore’s party scene (or lack thereof). When discussing which committee would be in charge of facilitating the town halls, the communications and student life committees were popular candidates. After each group provided their suggestions, Capossela decided to make a poll on Facebook for members to vote on; as of now, the most popular town hall theme is “Introduction to SGO.”
After discussing town hall themes, Capossela provided more updates on the current situation between the Board of Managers, SGO, and Swarthmore students. Because the student population is generally unaware of how the Board of Managers functions and its activities, Capossela wanted to improve the relationship between Swarthmore students and the Board. However, as Caposella stated in the SGO meeting minutes, the Chair of the Board of Managers, Salem Shuchman, is unwilling to meet face-to-face with Swarthmore students over potentially hostile issues or argumentative students. Therefore, SGO discussed sources of tension between students and Board members, ways to educate students about the Board’s role, and how to improve student-Board relations.
Students stayed in the same groups to discuss amendments and by-laws to the SGO constitution. By-law suggestions included, but were not limited to, reducing conflicts of interest between editorial groups and student government, compensation for senators, and the minimum number of signatures needed for a petition to be voted on by SGO. Vice President Akshay Srinivasan ‘21 is in charge of coordinating the by-law creation team.
Students then reconvened to discuss how to moderate President Valerie Smith’s lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 1, which was the first of a series of future monthly lectures. Capossela highlighted concerns regarding students’ conduct and nature of questions and fielded suggestions on how to facilitate conversation between students and President Smith. After much deliberation, SGO decided to allow President Smith to select from students’ written questions and have an informal discussion after the lecture.
Because the meeting ran over its allotted time, SGO was unable to deliberate renaming the NPPR building after someone from an underrepresented group of society. For the next meeting, SGO will also vote on whether SGO or SBC should fund the SEPTA initiative, where students can enter a lottery to receive Independence Passes.