SA begins new academic year, participates in Strategic Planning initiative

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EMMA FORD AND KIMBERLY LORES / THE FLAT HAT

The College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly held their first session of the 2019-2020 academic year Sept. 3. At the meeting, senators were briefed by College President Katherine Rowe’s Chief of Staff Jeremy Martin about the ongoing Strategic Planning process, which aims to incorporate diverse campus perspectives in a discussion on the College’s future throughout the next five to 10 years. In addition to discussing the Strategic Planning process, senators also debated the future of mental wellness at the College, and senators indicated their plans to work with the Counseling Center during the 2019-20 year.

Martin opened his discussion by sharing some of the Strategic Planning initiative’s goals, including long-term financial sustainability and advancing the College’s reputation for excellence.

The Strategic Planning initiative at the College will center around four points, specifically environmental analysis, strategy development, implementation and evaluation. Currently, College representatives are reflecting upon the community’s missions, visions and values in an attempt to refine the College’s priorities moving into the next decade.

“Before the value statement that you saw, none existed,” Martin said. “So we were referencing ‘antithetical to our values,’ we were making statements like that, without ever actually having a value statement.”

During the meeting, Sens. Meghana Boojala ’22 and Anthony Joseph ’21 introduced the Media Council Code Review Act, which updates the language of the SA code to accurately reflect the current condition of the Media Council. The act requires President Kelsey Vita ’20 to appoint two Media Council liaisons from SA.

Joseph also introduced the Election Commission Amendment, which proposes that the Election Commission can be made up of anywhere from two to four members. Currently, the Commission must be comprised of four members, but due to lack of interest, the Vita and Thomas administration is having trouble filling the remaining two spots.

Vice President Ellie Thomas ’20 supported the amendment.

“I think in general, we’ve tried to minimize the amount of positions on our cabinet, and we had an extremely competitive selection process,” Thomas said. “Adding positions makes it a lot more difficult for us to regulate everyone. So I think it’s great that we added a couple positions last year, but it means that it’s a lot more on our plates to fill.”

At the end of the meeting Sen. Derek Kernus ’14 M.B.A ’20 informed SA that he and Class of 2022 President Suhas Suddala ’22, Sen. Jahnavi Prabhala 22, Sen. Nick Wheaton M.B.A. ’20 and Sen. Kyle Vasquez ’21 have been working closely with the Counseling Center over the summer and plan to continue working on improving mental wellness.

Kernus explained that the Counseling Center does not use any forecasting techniques to determine how many appointments they may have in the future. He and other Senators are working with the Counseling Center to implement these forecasting techniques, in order to help the Center hire a third employee to help with high appointment rates.

“They fully admitted that last fall, they dropped the ball on their organizational planning for students,” Kernus said. “They found they had a lot more appointments than they anticipated, they made a lot of adjustments in the spring to accommodate for that.  What we found out is that they don’t really do forecasting to try to find out how many appointments they may have, which would help them get additional counselors.”

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Channing Brooks ’21 was confirmed and sworn in as a commissioner on the SA Election Commission.