By Grace Hogsten
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College’s Student Government Association has long been an integral part of student life and interactions between students and the College. SGA provides a platform where students can raise concerns and propose new ideas.
In order to better fulfill this purpose, SGA has added several new positions over the last year, some of which were added this semester. These four recent additions are Public Safety Liaison, Facilities Liaison, Dining Services Chair, and Accessibility Chair.
These positions are intended to facilitate an environment where students can give feedback and voice concerns on more specific issues. The officers bring student feedback to members of the staff, serving as facilitators of clear and open communication.
SGA officers understand their peers’ concerns and are able to collect and summarize student feedback effectively.
“[The role of] dining services chair [is]…a bridge between students and the dining hall. I am able to directly voice student concerns as well as let them know what is going well. It is my hope that this further opens communication between the students and the staff at the dining hall and encourages positive change,” Dining Services Chair junior Keira Anderson said.
Many students have feedback for dining services regarding the food served in the dining hall. However, it is difficult for many individuals to deliver separate feedback in a useful way. The Dining Services Chair will listen to student feedback and then address it with the dining services.
The Facilities Chair will also do important work communicating information on necessary repairs. Recently, many students have complained about Building and Grounds not responding to work orders.
Because there are so many necessary repairs, some students’ work orders seem to be overlooked. These work orders are for anything from a broken smoke detector to a malfunctioning heating unit.
With the Facilities Chair, students can take their concerns directly to senior Sam Mobley and make sure their voices are heard.
These new positions are not only providing students with a voice to share on-campus concerns, but also make the conversations easier since they are peer-to-peer.
Another benefit to the addition of more specific positions is that it shows students that there is a forum for them to be heard, and that the school is willing to address issues.
A prevalent issue on campus is accessibility, including how students traverse around campus and whether or not students with disabilities can access buildings. Fortunately, the new Accessibility Chair position works to solve these issues on campus.
“I think the issue of lack of disability accessibility has always been here, but…I hope to be a focal point for community members of the college to talk to and confide in…[W]e must start somewhere with making this campus more accessible,” Accessibility Chair and News Editor of the Elm junior Grace Apostol said.
WC has many accessibility issues: disability access is often overlooked in general in society when people are designing buildings and walkways.
The brick walkways are uneven and dangerous. Many residential buildings have stairs leading to the only entrances. Accessible entrances are often blocked by maintenance vehicles or decorations for events.
Inaccessibility is widespread across campus, but the presence of an Accessibility Chair shows that the college is willing to take steps towards addressing these issues and is equipped to work towards better accessibility.
Another recently added position, which was created last year by Stephen Hook, is the Public Safety Liaison. This officer gathers feedback from students and relays it to Public Safety.
Interactions between Public Safety and students last year were tense, so the position of Public Safety Liason makes these conversations much more easy and civil.
The new SGA positions also encourage freshmen to take part in student government, since all senators were able to run for the positions
According to Public Safety Liason freshman Kyaran Balin-Brooks, “[My job is] speeding up…[the] process [of communication between students and Public Safety] and making sure everybody’s needs are met…[I] gather feedback from students…Right now something that’s ongoing…is just making sure that student relationship with public safety is positive.”
As with the other recent positions, the addition of a Public Safety Liaison provides students with an easy and un-intimidating way to give feedback, especially on situations that can often be emotionally charged.
In a college environment where decisions regarding students’ housing, food, and safety are controlled by the school, students need a way to make changes to fix issues in their daily lives. The SGA positions are important to add because they give students a platform to improve campus life.
Photo courtesy of Miranda Parrish
Photo Caption: Junior Kiera Anderson is SGA’s Dining Services Chair, and is working with both the dining hall staff and students to consider how the dining hall can improve.