Student Association singles out untapped issues

Expectations are high for Student Association executives after last year’s leaders facilitated sweeping changes to Gelman Library, J Street, Student Judicial Services and 4-RIDE.

This year’s team, which had trouble naming specific goals beyond messaging for the first four months of their tenure, said they will push to resolve less conspicuous campus concerns this year.

Student Association President John Richardson identified two major projects for the year: modernizing career services and reevaluating certain University fees, including those associated with study abroad and on-campus employee recruitment – two priority issues for the University in the last six months.

“These are broad issues that will literally affect everything,” Richardson said.

The Student Association executives have partnered with University administrators to restructure career services, Richardson said, adding that the career center needs to play a larger role by teaching students in all disciplines how to write resumes and apply for jobs in an increasingly competitive job market.

The team plans to create a student and faculty fee commission to analyze the many student fees and determine which ones can be put on the table for a larger discussion.

“We haven’t had to do too much arm twisting on these things,” he said.

While Richardson credits Jason Lifton and Rob Maxim – last year’s SA leaders – with pushing key campus issues forward, he said that team took on issues the University had already made progress on.

“They went in and picked off the low-hanging fruit,” Richardson said. “Now we’re going in and trying to fill the gaps.”

As last year’s plans are implemented, the team finds itself in a “vacuum of big nagging concerns,” Richardson said.

“The big perennial issues that plague the SA from year to year have been taken care of,” he said.

Earlier this month, Student Association advocacy pressed the University Counseling Center to eliminate fees for a student’s first six sessions per year. Richardson said he dove into the issue as soon as he was elected, building relationships among administrators to assert the urgency of the issue and act quickly.

“The counseling center fee was an egregious thing. It was just not right,” Richardson said. “It’s tough to identify the next ‘not right’ thing,” he said.

The team is also looking to cut printing costs, redraft alcohol policies for graduate student groups, bring in speakers for a monthly University-wide debate series, increase lighting for evening sports events on the Mount Vernon Campus and renew commitment to campus news subscriptions.

The Student Association hosted two townhall-style meetings in the past month to pinpoint concerns to add to their agenda.

“The most important thing for us is communication. If we cannot fully understand the issues, we can’t fix them,” he said, adding, “This presidency probably has more student input than ever before.”

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