by TERIMARIE DEGREE
Are you aware of who the members of the Student Government Association are, or what they plan to do this school year? In an attempt to connect with the Mount Mary College student body, the group has started biweekly open forums, the first of which was Wednesday, September 28.
The level of student participation in student government has been low recently. The SGA hopes that by using this new forum as a way to communicate with students they will foster a better understanding of rising campus concerns as well as keep students abreast of the progress SGA is making on initiatives already underway.
Christina Vollrath is president of SGA, and has been involved with SGA since her sophomore year after a friend on SGA encouraged prompted Vollrath to join the group. The following year she joined. She spent two years as the treasurer and was elected as this year’s president. She has been interested in student government since high school, when she on Student Council.
“Each year we strive to become [better] known, and compared to when I first became a member of SGA I believe our awareness has grown, although it still has much more growing to do,” Vollrath said.
The SGA has a Facebook page and a section on the Mount Mary website. Vollrath says both items were newer and in need of being updated. “We are planning on updating these [as well as] creating a … calendar of all events occurring on campus. [The goal is to get] students to look at them and join them depending on [their interests].”
Working alongside the group as adviser is Amy Danielson, director of student engagement. She has been the adviser since January of this year. She and Vollrath have weekly meetings separate from the overall group’s meeting to discuss upcoming agenda items and events. Danielson said of the SGA as a whole, “We have a great group of student leaders that are committed to the success of this group.”
One successful initiative the group is continuing this year is participation in the Aveda Bottle Cap Project, a national program that collects bottle caps. This popular program collects caps from haircare-related bottles that are packaged by SGA members and returns them to Aveda salons for reuse. The purpose of the project is to keep the bottle caps out of nature and away from wildlife.
According to a media statement on the Aveda website, the program has “reached capacity for school enrollments [with] more than 1,600 schools … currently contributing to [their] collection.”
Other ideas the group would like to address this year are creating new service projects and addressing concerns about parking.
Previous attempts have been made to address the parking issue. “Last year we held an open forum about parking concerns as well as the new construction, and only a few students came; even though it had been advertised, promoted, and we personally talked to students about it,” Vollrath said.
With new open forums, SGA is determined to inform and encourage students so they become active participants in government and in student groups on campus overall.
When working on issues like parking, the final stop before policy or procedure change is school administration. Vollrath said David Nixon, vice president for academic and student affairs, has been active in working with SGA.
“He has provided valuable feedback to us, especially when it comes to moving our proposals to the next step,” Vollrath said. She also mentioned that he has been a regular presence at their meetings.
Having a successful student government is no easy task. In fact, there are organizations specifically geared toward assisting with the very challenges Mount Mary’s SGA is facing. For example, the American Student Government Association offers a myriad of resources and services, such as a document database, where one school can see another school’s bylaws. This is helpful in case a school would like to revamp their bylaws. ASGA also offers tools for students, staff and administration.
Members of Mount Mary’s SGA are moving ahead. Members have strong relationships that help them to solve campus problems. Perhaps a new idea or two from a group such as ASGA will take things to the next level.
One thing’s for sure, SGA wants to hear from you! Check the latest Mount Mary announcements for the next open forum. They will be held in the North Dining Room (across from the Alumnae Dining) from noon until 1 p.m. Grab your lunch, listen and provide feedback. Go and let your voice be heard!
President of SGA, Christina Vollrath
Staff Advisor to SGA, Amy Danielson, MM Director of Student Engagement
Member Relations/Research & Data Entry Specialist at the American Student Government Association
Aveda Media Statement & location of article photograph