In January, the Senate met for its annual Winter Regroup with an outside consultant. The goal of that meeting was to look at our current structure, policies and procedures, to assess the effectiveness and to set achievable goals for the spring semester. In doing that, we created a timeline to review each of the committee structures, Budget and Finance Policies and the overall Constitution to make updates and edits on those to vote on in April.
One of the things we hoped to do during that process was to hold focus groups, particularly with clubs, to seek feedback and input from students on the current policies and proposed changes. To be honest, we failed in this regard. Our Executive Board went through several transitions and vacancies, and we were operating with a very small senate, thus completing all of those tasks before the end of the semester became a challenge. While we were very thoughtful and intentional about the proposed changes, we did not achieve our goal in soliciting that input, formally, in the process.
As the newly elected President, my plan for fall is to host monthly Presidential Forums open to all students. This will be an opportunity for students to share ideas, express concerns and give feedback directly to me which I can share with the senate to work on. As a member of the Executive Board, I recognize this year this was an area where we did not fully achieve our mission and consistently gathering student feedback is one of my top priorities for my term as President.
Related to organization of the recent meeting, the Student Government Association (SGA) follows Robert’s Rules of Order as a guideline for running our meetings. It is a lengthy document, but the Executive Board and senators are trained on the overall rules and guidelines at the start of their terms and refreshed at the start of each semester. That being said, there are meetings where some guidelines which are rarely used come into play, and we do have to reference the document to make sure we are handling those correctly.
Tuesday, April 16 was certainly one of those meetings.
While all SGA meetings are open for anyone in the community to attend, guests rarely choose to attend those meetings, and on Tuesday we had over 40 non-senators there. There are some portions of the meeting which only elected senators can take part in, including making and seconding a motion, voting, etc.
But we also recognize that not everyone in that room knew those rules. We didn’t have a lot of notice prior to that meeting that we would have an influx of guests, but what we should have done was explain at the beginning of the meeting how it would run, what the outline was, and which portions were open for audience comments and questions to provide clarity to the group. Since then, we’ve discussed creating a guiding document to the future senate to utilize for highly-attended meetings moving forward.
As you know, we are all students, so we are learning and trying to improve at all times. Our goal is to best serve our fellow students, and we realize that we don’t always get that right. We are open to input and feedback from our fellow students. Please visit our office, email us at email@example.com or contact us via social media.
Finally, there were a lot of passionate people in that room Tuesday, April 16. Those are the people we’d love to be part of the organization. There will be vacancies in the fall, and we’d love to see those students apply to be part of SGA. Application info is available at snhusga.org.