Broken promises

As the end of the school year approaches, some students may be wondering how well the Student Government Association represented the student body. Some senators said they were proud of the progress that they made, however, the added distractions of internal issues kept them from doing more. “It just saddens me that there was another year of internal SGA conflict that inhibited our progress,” Speaker of the Senate Nick Monteforte said. “It’s not so much overbearing, but there are times at meetings when a good hour or so could be cut out where we are talking about things that don’t have to do with students,” he said. Internal conflicts could be seen throughout the SGA, with issues such as Senator Aliza Lederer-Plaskett’s charges against former President Kofi Mensah and the repeated censures placed upon Mensah. “I think there were definite bumps because there were certain people that butted heads,” former Speaker of the Senate Claire Chevrier said. As a result, certain goals were not achieved such as the club awards banquet, Chevrier said. “I think it was something that was really great in the past, and I’m upset it didn’t happen,” she said. “There’s always further room to grow.” Even with these distractions, Monteforte said he was impressed with the work that his Public Relations Committee achieved during the year. The committee worked on improving the student knowledge of what the SGA was really doing, he said. “We started out with the initiative of wanting to brand SGA a little more and get the word out of what we were doing,” Monteforte said. “Kind of a big task, but it’s what we set out to do.” The committee also worked to gather student opinions on issues, he said. “Public relations also made great strides in issuing the Vermont Student Opinion Poll this year,” Monteforte said. “It was a great way to gather student input on various issues such as what students thought of Coca-Cola and if they wanted extended library hours.” While many of the SGA’s overall goals were achieved, he said he felt that Mensah had difficulties fulfilling his platform. “I think we did a good job being transparent… [and] we left a pretty good legacy of being a pretty good body,” Monteforte said. “President Mensah was accountable for things … but at other times I think he glossed over issues.” Mensah said that he wanted to focus on creating a legacy as well as increasing the transparency and accountability of the SGA. Other senators agreed with Monteforte and said they were not impressed with Mensah’s work. Mensah was not prepared for the type of environment that is the SGA, said Mike White, chair of the Student Action Committee. “He thought he was going to have a more friendly audience,” White said. “If you fuck up they are going to call you on it, and I don’t know if he was ready for it. However, he said that he sympathizes with how easy it is to fall into a situation where you can’t fulfill your goals. “I was absolutely that guy,”White said. “I was like ‘I will get Coke off campus by the end of my first year’, but you can’t.” “They say ‘I’m gonna come in and clean up the SGA’, but you can’t.” White said he acknowledged the internal issues among the SGA and their effect on productivity. “It didn’t prevent us from getting anything done that was on the table, but what it did kind of prevent us from was doing more,” he said. The Student Action Committee tackled projects such as late-night dining, the beverage contract, a water bottle ban and recently the gay blood ban, White said. “We’ve been working all year on getting water bottles off of campus,” he said. “No nonsense steps towards a lower carbon footprint.” “We ordered 200 water bottles and just handed them out to people. We thought that if we asked people to do it, we should help out.” While most of these are projects that are still in action and will be carried over into next year, President Julian Golfarini said. “With SGA, really most of the projects that you see are always a work in progress,” Golfarini said. A few examples are the Bailey/Howe Library, which will have extended hours, and the Marché, which will be open till 2 a.m. next semester, he said This year’s SGA will try to continue that goal of representing the students voice by reaching out using tools such as social networking sites, Golfarini said. “I think last year went well, but the group we have this year I am very excited about,” he said.