The Student Government Association (SGA) consists of an executive and legislative branch and class councils that engage in weekly meetings to provide an outlet for student voices. This year, SGA President senior Derek Baker and Vice President senior Marie St. Claire will lead the executive branch.
SGA would like to increase its transparency in an effort to provide more representative legislation that extends to the entire student population.
“The challenges of SGA are apparent to everyone. Often we have acted as an autonomous body that is only representative of the singular voice that is found within SGA, mainly white cisgender people. This year I hope to address this as much as possible. Marie and I both understand that it will not be a quick fix, but we hope to be a part of a much greater effort to make SGA more inclusive and supportive of all people on campus,” Baker said.
Chief of Staff senior Hayley Lazzari echoed Baker’s sentiment. This position facilitates projects that the Baker-Claire platform promised to the Colgate community during their campaign.
“More than anything, I hope to begin working to break down the barriers between identities and create a space where everyone feels free to be every part of themselves,” Lazzari said.
Lazarri believes that SGA can accomplish this feat by increasing a sense of unity between SGA and the rest of the student population.
“The biggest goal that I have for campus this year is fostering community and transparency within SGA, as well as between SGA and the students at large. One of the ways that I aim to do this is to have the different SGA bodies consistently in conversations and meetings with one another, as well as working closely with our Communications Director on his integral projects for transparency,” Lazzari said.
In an effort to make students more aware of the legislation and projects undergone by SGA, the Baker-Claire administration plans to increase SGA visibility on campus.
“This semester we will be completely updating the SGA website which will have weekly up-to-date summaries of what we plan to do and what we are currently working on,” Baker said.
Students not involved in SGA are highly encouraged to attend weekly Senate meetings that are open to the Colgate community. This year, meetings will occur every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Persson Auditorium.
Senator senior Alex Valdez understands the time constraints of attending these weekly meetings.
“While anyone is technically allowed to sit in on senate meetings, this isn’t something many students have the ability to commit to for two hours. Until we find a way for easier access to these discourses, I, as well as many other SGA members, will remain as approachable as possible to have any conversations regarding our work,” Valdez said.
In addition to visiting the new website and attending senate meetings, St. Claire encourages students to get to know their senators.
“Students can attend future coffee hours that SGA will host to introduce students to senators. Additionally, [students] can always send us an email. We are making it of utmost importance for our SGA to be proactive resources for our student body,” St. Claire said.
In her role as Vice President, St. Claire assists the President in holding regular meetings with Colgate administration and academic departments, engaging with the Board of Trustees, and attending all cabinet and senate meetings.
The senate provides and vetoes legislation, grants and removes SGA-recognition of on-campus organizations and serves on committees. Parliamentarian junior Molly Nelson spoke to the importance of these committees.
“SGA is one of the main mediators between students and administrators on Colgate’s campus,” Nelson said.
The Budget Allocations Committee (BAC) provides funds to SGA-recognized groups such as the Center of Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education, WRCU, CUTV and The Colgate Maroon-News. Senior Laurel Cassidy serves as the co-treasurer of the BAC alongside senior Emily Palermo to allocate approximately $400,000 to student affairs every semester.
“Every Sunday, the BAC meets with up to 10 club leaders who have requested funding, and we work with these individuals to provide the funding they need and help make their events happen. Our main goal for the semester is to fund a diverse range of programming that will cater to the interests of as many students as possible and make Colgate’s social scene more inclusive,” Cassidy said.
St. Claire understands that increasing transparency within SGA will require continuous effort this year and the semesters to follow.
“Bettering SGA’s relationship with the student body is a long-term goal that I do not foresee being accomplished within our term alone. However, I think increasing our outreach – whether it be coffee hours or supporting, via funding or publicity, incredible resources that we already have on campus, for instance, the Haven, we can begin to show students that we are there for them as their representatives,” she said.
Contact Gaby Bianchi at [email protected]