The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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SGA Recap: Change is Coming

SGA outlines its commitment to restructuring this Academic Year.
SGA Recap: Change is Coming

In a meeting that attempted to set a positive and transformational tone for this upcoming year, the Student Government Association (SGA) convened on September 12, 2023, with an agenda brimming with optimism, change, and a commitment to redefining its role within the college community.

The meeting opened with a roll call, led by President Taylor Hope and Advisor April Wright. With a firm presence at the helm, SGA set out to reacquaint itself with the MCLA community.

Dr. Jeannette Smith, Vice President of Student Affairs, appeared as a guest speaker at the meeting, representing the college’s administration. First VP Smith states “There has been a decline in engagement from the pandemic as well as a cultural shift. Colleges need to change and adapt and adjust to our cultural shift.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the academic world has seen a nosedive-like drop in student engagement. Club and Organization numbers are at an all-time low, and many campus events across both MCLA and numerous other colleges across the country have seen extremely low numbers. 

 During her address, VP Smith declared “This year is a building year and a moment to look at our student body and who we are as an institution.” This seems to reflect many programs and aspects of MCLA at the moment. The school is undergoing massive construction, LEAD Academy has changed drastically from last year, as well as the edition of several new campus apps like Navigate and Campus Groups. 

Smith emphasized the importance of updating the SGA constitution, which has remained unchanged for half a century. Smith states that the “SGA constitution has not been updated in 50 years. Students are generally engaged by showing their interests, the challenge is that all of those things do not recognize student voice when it comes to change at this level.” Updates for how this constitution will be changed are still being determined at this time, but it will seemingly be focused on drawing in new members into the organization, and assure that more types of students can be found in student leadership.

One aspect of the constitution that may be changed is the group’s attendance policy. Smith proposed that “We need something (referring to SGA’s attendance policy) that is sustainable, that can have the capacity to work with compensation and allows for a voice in the governance. This may mean that members of SGA could potentially be paid for the labor they perform for the college managing the college’s numerous clubs and their budgets, as well as sitting on different communities committed to creating change on campus.”

An upcoming special election in February and a vote in April will decide the composition of next year’s SGA, underscoring the urgency of students’ involvement.

Janeilah Vazquez, a Class of 2024 student involved in the Women of Color Initiative, Admissions Ambassador, and Latin American Society, brought valuable insights to the meeting as a guest student speaker. She discussed the challenges faced by student organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent period of adjustment.

Vazquez highlighted how, before the pandemic, MCLA students were socially active and diverse. However, maintaining the vibrancy of student clubs during and after the pandemic proved to be a significant challenge. Recruitment became a daunting task, as students were hesitant to attend events. To combat this, friends often attended events to support their peers, but Vazquez stressed the importance of fostering a more inclusive atmosphere.

One key theme of Vazquez’s address was the need for clarity in running student programs. She highlighted the disconnect between the process of planning and executing events. This year, there is a concerted effort to provide student organizations with the knowledge they need to navigate the complexities of event planning effectively.

Vazquez also pointed to the role of technology in promoting events and collaboration among student groups. Group chats have become a valuable tool for disseminating information about events and fostering cooperation.

The SGA meeting also featured an open forum where attendees had the opportunity to discuss various concerns and suggestions. One notable issue raised was a student’s email regarding parking, which has been forwarded to the VP of Student Affairs for resolution.

As the meeting drew to a close, several upcoming events were announced, including the Student Engagement Pop-in Fridays, SAC Welcome Fest, MCLA’s 2023 Constitution Day Lecture, and the Annual Mt. Greylock Hike. These events promise to be great opportunities for students to engage with their peers and the MCLA community.

MCLA’s SGA wishes to embark on a journey of transformation, with a renewed commitment to representing student interests and fostering a dynamic campus environment. The question is only left of follow-through. How will SGA continue to implement these changes in policy and structure? Will students feel the effects of these decisions in their day-to-day life? Will SGA live up to the promise of radical change?

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Jaden Jackson, Staff Writer / Social Media Manager

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