Student Government Exclusive

From the time the doors open in the morning until they close in the afternoon the Student Government Office is a vibrant place. Throughout the office there is discussion and analysis of new policies UVM is proposing to implement as well as discussion about many of the clubs and organizations the Student Government oversees. This discussion continues most nights of the week, when the different committees which make up the Student Government Association meet to discuss the week’s topics. Tuesday nights are especially busy in the office as Senators pick up the meeting agenda and head to Marsh Lounge in Billings for the weekly Student Government Association meeting. While you personally may know very little about the Student Government Association, most likely you’ve participated in an activity which relates to us, as we fill many roles here on campus. One of the major roles of the Student Government Association is to give feedback to the Administration of the university in regards to policy decisions. Our other role is to help coordinate the activities of the over 125 clubs that UVM offers. The Student Government takes pride in the variety of clubs we have to offer; ranging from the Elvish Language Club, a club devoted to teaching the language used by the elves in the Lord of The Rings Trilogy, to the Outing Club one of the largest clubs devoted to providing students a chance to get away and go on weekly trips, as well as participate in trail clean-up activities. The Student Government Association also supports thirty-three club sports teams, including Crew, Gymnastics, and Lacrosse. These athletic clubs helped push UVM to win the title of the Fourth Fittest School in the Nation, according to Men’s Fitness Magazine. The Student Government also works to co-sponsor events such as some of the hurricane benefit activities, which went on during Homecoming weekend. The Student Government Association accomplishes its work through the seven committees it encompasses, each one charged with completing a certain role laid out by the Student Government Association Constitution. During the weekly meeting each Committee Chair shares how the week progressed for the committee members and what they accomplished. The Finance Committee chaired by Ben Wildstein is in charge of working to allocate the Student Government Association budget to the recognized clubs, as well as allocation of supplemental funding throughout the year. The Committee on Legislative Action is charged with handling town gown relations; mostly in regards to students living off campus. Through a partnership with the Office of Conflict Resolution the COLA Committee has created an off-campus living video, which students will soon see. COLA has also worked to help understand the noise ordinance, “While we respect the town’s motives behind such an [noise] ordinance, and its design, the actual effect it is starting to have is very negative. We are currently researching what possible changes to the ordinance could satisfy both students and town officials, and benefit the greater Burlington community at large,” COLA Chair, Ben Blumberg stated. The Student Action Committee is currently quite busy as it handles many of the issues which come through the Student Government Association. Their projects include ensuring that students are safe throughout campus by participating in “blue light” walks making sure that the blue lights around campus are working (if you see one out please report it to Police Services 656-3473). Student Action also is working to understand the on-campus livable wage debate, and chair Seth Bowden is creating a pamphlet, which should help to clear up student understanding of Residential-Life/Police Services/CSES policies. The Student Activities Committee is in charge of running the oversight of the various clubs on campus. Through their student activities liaison clubs can get in touch directly with the Student Government Association, and chair Katie Kasarjian. This year alone the Student Activities Committee has helped new clubs get recognized such as, Chabad, UVM UNICEF, and Fly Fishing. The Committee on Student Affairs and Communication is dedicated to student outreach. The Student Government Association, while representing the entire student body is compromised of only 40 senators. It is the responsibility of the Committee on Student Affairs and Communications to take the student body’s “pulse.” According to Chair Ajay Schmidt, “We are always trying to get student feedback about issues, as well as determine student concerns. One way to let us know is by going to the SGA website and using the Ticks-Me-Off feature.” The Academic Affairs Committee chaired by Senator Morgan Hollister has also had quite a busy semester working hard to help create the new academic honesty policy for students, put into place this year. The committee has also worked with the Bailey/Howe Library to create a better study environment for students to enjoy, including the possible addition of vending machines. The final committee is the Executive Committee made up of the committee chairs previously mentioned, as well as the President, Sarah Poirier; Vice President, Katie Carl; Treasurer, Jessica Banks; and Speaker, Sean Hagan. The Executive Committee is in charge of keeping the Student Government Association on task as well as finding topics to bring up at Senate. Student Government Association members are elected by the Student Body during the Spring Semester in a general election, while the President and Vice President are elected during a special Presidential election held in the spring a few weeks prior to the general election. Everyone who is an undergraduate student, and is not going to graduate that spring, is eligible to run for a position as Senator, the Executive Committee is picked by the President and Vice-President elect. Meetings of the Student Government Association occur weekly, and during public forum anyone in attendance can speak to the senators. If you would like to know more about the Student Government Association, or would like to read the weekly meeting minutes, all of this is available at the Student Government Association website: www.uvm.edu/sga.