The Student Government Association (SGA) has established five ‘overarching themes’ that will frame their future legislation following last month’s Town Hall meeting with students, faculty, and administrators.
The SGA has outlined the themes of affordability, parking, accessibility, advising, and facilities, as issues that they will work towards improving in the future, according to Student Government President Rishi Shah.
Going forward, the SGA plans to collaborate between committees to solve some of these issues.
“These goals are not necessarily new, but they were brought up at the Town Hall, and [the SGA executive committee is] going to work with the Senate, who already may be working on a lot of these things to expedite that and combine our resources to work together,” Shah said.
Shah wishes to foster more collaboration in the SGA through clear communication and the establishment of working committees.
“We are still working on formalizing [communication] processes,” Shah said. “I can imagine that working committees will be formed to tackle each initiative.”
Many of these overarching themes, including accessibility, parking, and facilities fall largely under the jurisdiction of the Student Life Committee.
One of the main issues discussed at the Town Hall was the price and availability of parking. Many feel that parking passes are too costly, particularly at the Interprofessional Health Services (IHS) campus in Nutley, where students and faculty have to pay up to $485 for a pass.
“We are currently working with the executive board to assess the gravity of different issues within parking, such as the price of passes on the South Orange Campus and IHS Campus in Nutley, or the size of spots and how they may lead to damages,” said Saveria Antonacci, chair of the Student Life Committee. “We are also working to obtain the survey results from the campus-wide commuter survey that was distributed last Spring, in order to come up with a detailed action plan.”
Upkeep and upgrades to university facilities were also brought up at the Town Hall. This year, the Student Life Committee has contacted Facilities Engineering to raise the issue of exterior lighting near the University Center.
Antonacci also confirmed that Student Life will continue working towards greater accessibility for students with disabilities.
“Student Life has addressed the issue of accessibility in the past but plans to work alongside the Department of Student Life now that Dr. Cooper-Gibson established a few goals relating to accessibility for students and faculty,” Antonacci said, referring to the University’s new Vice President of Student Services’ commitment to increasing accessibility.
Many at the town hall discussed the issues of advising, a topic which falls under the Academic Affairs Committee’s jurisdiction.
“The academic affairs committee has been working with the Provost on advising. In those meetings we have been discussing the majors in which banner has erroneous information and how we can correct that,” Amber Ingram, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, said.
The issue of affordability was discussed at great length between students and administrators at the Town Hall, and student representatives on University committees are becoming more involved in the pricing process, according to President Shah.
“There are different committees being formed through strategic planning and the university-wide goals that we have students and senators on right now,” Shah said.
Overall, Shah felt that the Town Hall was a success, and that the questions and comments raised by students helped inform the SGA and the university about the issues facing students.
“I think the Town Hall went extremely well, we had a lot of administrators say that it was one of the better town halls, because so many valuable questions were asked,” Shah said. “The turnout was amazing, there were a lot of just non-SGA people there and people from all around campus, so it went very well.”
Dan O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.