The first annual “What Can the Student Assembly Do For You” event was held Tuesday evening in the Sadler Center. The event was attended by fewer students than Senate Outreach Committee Chair Brittany Fallon ’11 had hoped.
“I think there were maybe 10 [non-SA students],” she said, adding that she hopes more students attend SA events in the future.
The meet-and-greet was open to all students and marked the first time members of the senate, Undergraduate Council and executive branch have gathered in one place to meet with the students they represent. The 10 to 20 non-SA students in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions.
The event was a continuation of the ongoing effort to improve the SA’s transparency at the College of William and Mary.
The newly elected representatives of the Class of 2012 have begun to focus on this objective.
“I want to increase accessibility through informing students and giving them more options to get involved,” Class President Kobie Gordon ’12 said.
Sen. Betty Jeanne Manning ’12 agreed.
“Being more transparent is the big theme in SA this year, the main goal,” she said. “Our plans have a lot to do with interacting more with students. Let’s get students involved.”
SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09 suggested that student involvement may expand through increasing accessibility to information about on campus resources including funding options for campus organizations.
“Students need to know where their money is being apportioned,” she said.
The procedure for obtaining financial backing for a student group was thoroughly explained at the event. Members must first attend one of the mandatory pre-budget workshops, which will be held this year in October and November. A budget request packet must then be submitted to the SA’s Executive Appropriations Committee.
Another recent measure the SA took to further transparency was replacing the Internal Affairs Committee with the Outreach Committee.
“Through doing this, we are shifting the focus away from matters that are important but just don’t impact students’ everyday lives,” Hopkins said. “We want to increase communication between the triangle: the Student Assembly, administration and students.”
According to Hopkins, communication is a vital component of being a part of the SA.
“As a member of the Student Assembly, it is important to have access to a wide diversity of students,” she said. “This is where your credibility comes from.”
Hopkins commended recently confirmed SA Vice President Kristin Slawter ,’09 for actively working to further students’ familiarity with the SA.
“Kristen has really jumped into the job. She has beyond exceeded my expectations and done phenomenally,” she said.
Hopkins also discussed outreach plans, which include an SA blog and newsletters as a way to expand representatives’ accessibility.
However, a number of SA members expressed concern that many students are unaware of what their representatives are doing to execute change at the College.
“One of the problems is that students just don’t know what [the] SA works hard to accomplish,” Hopkins said.
Although some representatives were disappointed with the low turnout, they ensured that this would not stop them from continuing their attempts to become better connected with students, something of great significance to Secretary of Public Affairs David Witkowsky ’11.
“Before the more recent changes, we used to be very behind the scenes,” he said. “We now want to make students more aware of what we are doing for them.”