WSA re-evaluates strategy for student representation
The first WSA meeting of the semester centered around examining the group's role in representing student needs and increasing transparency. President Emily Polak ’05 and committee heads also presented their mid-year reports and plans for the spring semester.
“It's not enough for us to simply be content with the status quo and so I am calling for a reaffirmed commitment to the WSA for the sake of fulfilling our duties as elected representatives, with the continued and increased emphasis on student voice,” Polak said.
Many committee members expressed the desire to include more student representatives in administrative bodies such as the Master Plan Executive Committee, as well as to add transparency to their own processes. The Coordinating Committee, for instance, recounted the October poll on gender-neutral housing as a powerful way to get student input.
Each member of a WSA committee gave a short presentation on the status of their committees' projects and goals for the next term.
Several items were taken from the list of student grievances submitted to the administration last semester. For instance, the Student of Color Perspectives and Action Committee was created under the greater Student Affairs Committee to address campus issues from the perspectives of students of color, a viewpoint that some students felt was not being represented adequately.
Another student concern was over the lack of student lounge space, but this issue has not yet been resolved.
An attempt by the Finance and Facilities Committee to open up the third floor of the Campus Center for student performances was met with red tape from Aramark. Since students would have to pass through Aramark property and could access Aramark equipment if the performances spaces were operational, the company required that two staff members be present on the property.
Other items discussed were the mid-year reports, including a Student Budget Committee (SBC) presentation on the financial standing of the General Budget for student groups and events. The SBC reported that they have enough money to support the student groups until the end of the school year.
Some items only concerned a specific committee or student population. For example, the Undergraduate Residential Life Committee proposed that a smoking ban be extended to all residential units, including senior woodframe houses. The WSA agreed with that proposal, which will go into effect in the fall of 2005.
A new development is WesClassifieds, a program that will be overseen by the Educational Policy Committee. Soon students will be able to use their E-portfolios to post classified ads, selling things from clothes to textbooks. The system would be modeled after an existing system for faculty, and should be available in the next few weeks.