When Student Association President Julie Bindelglass promised to “take back the SA,” during last year’s campaign, she vowed that communicating with students would be the top priority of her new administration.
“We definitely want to increase communication and that’s something that’s so easy to do within the first 50 days, first 100 days – during that transition,” Bindelglass told The Hatchet in April.
A month and a half into the school year, however, SA leaders have come up short on the communications expectations they set for themselves.
Since the start of Bindelglass’ presidency, an online “SA Resource Network” of three Web sites has been launched: GWStudentAssociation.com, a catch-all for general information about the SA, GWSAFunds.com, for the SA’s financial information and funding resources, and OurGWSA.com, to show the organization’s personal side.
GWStudentAssociation.com’s inaugural post said it would serve as “an avenue of communication” to elected student leaders. But the site had no posts from the executive in September, and the seven posts from the legislative branch were mainly focused on recruiting new members rather than connecting with the student body.
On OurGWSA.com, which dedicates itself to “introducing a new side to our student government,” there are four posts – the most recent of which is from July 6.
“The fact is, the Web site isn’t being updated enough,” Dan Curran, executive branch chief of staff, said. “We do need to do a better job of communicating.”
In additional to the largely unused Web sites, there have been 38 tweets on the SA’s official Twitter account, 10 of which were auto-tweets in September. Bindelglass previously said Twitter would serve as a place for students to participate in the SA.
Bindelglass has called this period in October a “midterm self-assessment” and says she is trying to recommit to some of her original goals.
“I’m definitely good at admitting mistakes,” Bindelglass said.
Curran said September was a learning month for the organization. Over the summer, Bindelglass met with University administrators, but Curran said that communication was “tough.”
Executive Vice President Jason Lifton said he was proud of the online publicity for some of the senate’s recent activities, including the allocations process and freshman senate applications.
“The senate realizes the importance of open communication,” Lifton said. “We’ve worked to make sure our info is updated on the Web site and to make sure that all relevant documents are updated.”
But Lifton and Bindelglass did not respond to a question about missing location information for the allocations meeting held earlier this month. The Senate, which accepted public comment from student organizations before it doled out $380,000, did not post the location of the allocations meeting on any of the three Web sites, their campus calendar or Twitter.
Curran pointed to aspects of the main Web site that are functioning, including an events calendar that all student organizations are welcome to post on. The four senate committee chairs, nine executive directors, eight vice presidents, Curran, Lifton, and Bindelglass have posting privileges on the Web sites. Senate Finance Committee Chair Connor Walsh, U-At Large, maintains GWSAFunds.com, and its six posts contain links to the newly passed allocations funding.
The College Democrats, College Republicans, 14th Grade Players, Hillel, and Colonial Army have all used the calendar to list their events.
Curran called a unifying calendar “a huge achievement” and hopes it becomes even more widely used. He said, however, there was no excuse for the lack of updates to the president’s meeting log, which was previously updated nearly every day for two weeks. It has not been maintained since July 30.
“Just because it’s not on the president’s meeting log doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Curran said. “I don’t want people to think that, because the Web site hasn’t been updated, that people aren’t working on their behalf.”
While Curran described relations between the executive branch and the senate as “better than they had been in a long time,” he also said that a full cabinet meeting has not been held yet.
There is no official SA requirement for holding cabinet meetings; doing so is at the discretion of the president. Curran said Bindelglass prefers to meet with executive branch members in small groups or individually.
“It’s a different style than last year,” Curran said. “Outside of updating the sites, I’m happy. Julie has the respect of the administrators, and more importantly, she has the ear of the administrators.”
“It’s going to improve, we’re going to get back to basics,” Curran said. “We owe it to the student body to play a little bit of catch-up.”
Both Bindelglass and Curran said there hasn’t been a time when the full 20-member cabinet has all been available to get together.
Bindelglass said she thought it spoke to the cabinet’s dedication that”they’re all busy doing stuff.” Not tying the cabinet down with meetings “allows them to get their initiatives done,” Bindelglass said.