As the student body returns to campus to begin the new year, the Student Assembly has started to operate with a new administrative advisor and looks to continue financial reform, student life initiatives, transparency and election efforts.
Opening the year with an executive branch retreat last Saturday, SA President Chase Koontz ’14 positively described his cabinet as “passionate” and “lateral” as it begins to plan for various initiatives for the upcoming semester. Alongside his cabinet, Koontz commented on a positive intergovernmental relationship between the three branches of the SA and believes his cabinet will work well together, alongside the student groups across campus and within the other branches of the SA.
“This year is a great year for the Student Assembly,” Finance Committee Chair Sen. Colin Danly ’15 said. “I think this year we’ll have the closest and most effective relationship between the executive and the [rest of] Student Assembly in a very long time, which is very helpful to the student body and, frankly, cuts down on the bullshit.”
Administratively, this year marks a change from years past, with the newly appointed Assistant Director of Student Leadership Development for Programming Trici Fredrick M.Ed. ’05 as the adviser to the SA. Before the renaming and reorganization of the Student Activities office last year, Fredrick served as the faculty adviser for AMP.
“She’s going to be a huge resource that we’re excited to have for this year,” Koontz said. “She’s going to be huge in terms of establishment and institutional knowledge for the Student Assembly.”
Koontz commented favorably on the potentially positive result having a consistent advisor knowledgeable about the SA and its policy history will have on the SA. In her position, Fredrick will meet regularly with Koontz and other SA members. Additionally, the Student Leadership Development Office faculty members have been assigned to advise the Undergraduate Council this year.
In terms of student outreach, the SA looks to increase transparency with the student body through a website revamp scheduled for later this month. By the end of September, the SA will launch its new website, which will include a list of current SA members, their biographies and information about the SA and its latest initiatives. These changes, among others, will bring the website up to SA code. Koontz said the executive, the senate and the council will be given access to the website so that updates may occur faster and more easily.
Additionally, the fall elections will take place Sept. 26. This will include elections for freshman positions as well as the vacancies in the Class of 2014 vice president of social affairs and secretary positions.
“Freshmen come in with so much excitement and enthusiasm to really get involved and help out,” Koontz said. “They’re going to be a huge asset.”
As the Election Commission advertises freshmen elections, the undersecretaries of voter registration will prepare for the November Virginia general and gubernatorial elections through voter registration. Voter registration efforts could also have an effect this spring during the Williamsburg City Council elections in May.
The SA is also hoping to make students aware of various changes that went into effect this fall, including updates to the Honor System and Student Handbook. All undergraduates will receive “Know Your Rights” wallet-sized cards that outline students’ rights in relation to the honor code and student conduct code.
Another initiative taking affect this fall is Tribe Tailgating, which will begin this Saturday, Sept. 7, for the first home football game. In terms of Homecoming, the council is planning events, including a T-shirt design contest.
This year, the senate will also restructure the way organizations receive money from the SA in a variety of financial reforms. SA organizations, including the Election Commission and Public Affairs cabinet, must pass bills for routine operations such as printing fliers to advertise for elections. This year, the SA will include a separate allocation for them in the beginning of the school year.
“It’s more effective for them — they can plan easier and far in advance,” Senate Chair William McConnell ’14 said.
The SA will also change the forms that club leaders fill out for the normal budget process.
“We’d rather have the [Executive Appropriations Commission] discussing, ‘Is this what the student activities fee should be spending money on’ as opposed to ‘Can we finance this through the code?’” Koontz said.
The seven members of the Review Board will be confirmed at the senate meeting on Sept. 10 and the undersecretary of public affairs to Richmond and final member of the Election Commission will be confirmed at today’s meeting at 8 p.m. in Blow 331.
Flat Hat Managing Editor Meredith Ramey contributed to this article.