SGA hosts first meeting of the semester

The Student Government Association (SGA) had their first formal meeting of the Spring semester on February 21. Led by President Michael Loginoff ’16 and Vice President Brittany Chin ’16, SGA reconvened with new Junior Class Presidents, Matt Hawkins ’17, and Eliza Baker-Wacks ’17. The meeting began with reports from the Executive Council. All members of the council encouraged SGA members to participate and promote Spirit Week events that began  on Monday, asking Dorm Presidents to encourage their residents to sign up for the PPD Luncheon and Tours. The Board introduced a new symbolic gesture: a football with the SGA logo (“The Football”) that would be handed to an SGA member every week for their time and contributions to the College. This week, Chin handed the football to Heights Dorm President Tanya Kureishi ’17 for her work organizing Spirit Week activities.

Multicultural Chair Ramon Arriaga ’16 also discussed the upcoming Men’s Summit. The  event is a coming together of all students  who identify  as male, with discussions centered around the theme of violence. Further details about the event will be made public as the event approaches.  Arriaga added that Iavor Dekov ’16 is building an app for the Pugh Center that should be available soon. The  app would notify students of events, workshops, and other activities held in the Pugh Center and by Pugh Center clubs.

Treasurer Osman Bah ’16 talked about the Leveraging Leadership Conference that took place on February 20 for club leaders across campus. The conference was well-attended and was intended to streamline and improve club leadership, elections, and event planning. He added that the SGA now had a Wall Street Journal subscription available for all Colby students, which they can  access using their Colby email handle.

Parliamentarian Ibraheem Baqai ’16 promoted two upcoming events organized by the Alumni Council:  a career panel on the following Thursday and a Alumni Trivia Night on Friday. Chin discussed the formation of a working group for internal SGA reform. This group will analyze and discuss the effectiveness of the current SGA structure and propose changes to the SGA in the form of a motion.

The only motion for the meeting was on the same issue of SGA reform, and was introduced by Taylor, Sturtevant, and Leonard Dorm President Mathias Fressilli ’18. Most of the meeting was focused on discussing Fressilli’s proposition. He proposed a complete structural reform of the system. Under his model, SGA would have more members but each member would have more specific tasks. Every member would be paid and would be “contractually obligated” to fulfill their responsibilities or risk being fired.

Instead of one dorm president per block, his model proposed having four representatives per block, each with highly specific duties with the power to create committees for the execution of tasks. These four members would live in a quad in one of the dorms in the block.

Fressilli’s suggestions were met with many  questions and intense debate. Various members including Molly Feldstein ’16, Prashant Bashisth ’19, Mara Badali ’16, Baker-Wacks, and Chin brought up immediate concerns and issues of feasibility with the model. Feldstein pointed out that the typical dorm election doesn’t have four  contestants, and therefore having four  representatives per dorm block would require significantly increased student participation for the elections to remain a process of healthy selection.

Along with Tim Gallagher ‘16, Bashisth pointed out that it would be very difficult to measure and gauge any notion of the committee success that every member would be “contractually obligated” to achieve. Communications Chair Kat Restrepo ’18 spoke passionately, saying “This concept of paying to represent Colby students tarnishes the notion of people wanting to help, to contribute, to be a part of SGA.” Many others echoed her opinion.  As a member of the Executive Board, Restrepo is a paid SGA member, however, she added that she was unaware of this at the time of applying for the position, saying, “I applied because I really wanted to do this. I really enjoy this sort of thing,” and that the pay was just an added bonus.

Gallagher, Chin, and Arriaga all brought up various issues with the current structure of SGA in terms of accountability and goal-setting,  but the general sentiment seemed to be that Fressilli’s radical model is  not the way to achieve that. Loginoff added that many of Fressilli’s job descriptions for the four-representative-model already fell under a Dorm President’s duties, and therefore, that needs to be worked on. This issue, alongside Fressilli’s proposal, will move to the SGA Reform Working Group’s agenda.

More members brought up some new issues for SGA discussion. Badali, along with Andrew Ferraro ’16, discussed the issues surrounding drinking on campus. Currently, a student faces disciplinary action for going to the hospital for any alcohol-related problems, which may  deter students from seeking medical attention when they need it. Both Ferraro and Badali are working to better the current system. Scott Lehman ’16, Elizabeth Paulino ‘18, and Bashisth all brought up the issue of student accountability for iBikes and the squash rackets in the Athletic Center. SGA is working on a more rigorously enforced model for renting bikes and rackets in the future to prevent damage to community equipment.

The meeting ended with a proposal to include class years on students’ Colby cards. The next formal SGA meeting will be in two weeks time.

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