November 23, 2014 Leave a comment
Earlier this month, the fifteen new positions for Senate as well as the Senate President were filled for the first time under the new constitution. In total, twenty-six candidates ran for Senate positions that allow five students per class, but seniors are not eligible to run. Overall, seven first year students, eleven sophomores, and eight juniors ran for the various positions. They are running for a two-semester term, beginning in the spring and ending at the end of the next fall semester. The candidate for Senate President, Deanna Galer ‘17, ran unopposed. Students had the option to either vote via an online ballot or a polling booth in the Pearlstone atrium beginning November 4. The atrium voting was open during the day, but the online system accepted votes until the late hours of November 7. The following day, students and faculty were notified that after nearly 36% of Goucher student participated in the new Senate would be filled by first years Anurag Chaudhary, Shushma Chapagain, Marina Lant, Erin Carrigan; sophomores Micah Heaney, Nakpangi Ali, Rae Walker, Katelyn Shiring, Alyssa Almeida; and juniors Najah Ali, Daanish Wali, Sarah Callander, Bernardo Rendon and Andrew Krupa. Under the new constitution of the Goucher Student Government (GSG), the fifteen seats on the Senate hold new responsibilities. The new mission of the Senate is to be a part of all student affairs in order to communicate and advocate for the needs of the students to both the faculty and the administration. According to the new constitution, Senate will appoint student representatives to be present for staff, faculty, administration, and trustee discussions. This will allow for Senate to voice the opinion of the students as well as inform students of possible changes, overall creating a better platform for communication. Prior to the election, the GSG held meet-and-greets whereby students could learn about each candidate and how they planned to advocate for student needs. Among the topics discussed at the meetings were diversity and multicultural student support, administration transparency, campus culture, graduation requirements, and the structure of the GSG itself. On November 3, GSG held a series of meetings, one for each grade, to discuss these topics. Candidates for each year were given this list of topics, and at the meeting they could voice their individual opinions and ways they would work to improve them. At the junior meeting, there seemed to be an overall dissent for the communication between the administration and students. One candidate, Bernardo Rendon, points to the student retention rate as a way to highlight this lack of communication. While the administration has done their internal research into why students leave Goucher, Rendon stated “I think the only way to get honest and accurate answers about why students are leaving the school is to start with the ground floor… which is the students.” By leaving out half of the equation, the administration is lacking vital input from those whom their decisions impact the most, students. In addition, candidate Eli Schwartz stated that this lack of communication is something which sums up his entire experience. He states, “What it boils down to, is regulating the flow of information between the administration and students…” He further says that the rumors and misinformation resulting from this always seem to cause a general sense of panic from the student body. As exhibited in the election, there seems to be a gap between student participation in the meetings and their call to vote during the election. Fewer than 10% of the junior class attended the pre-election meetings, but nearly 40% of the school student body voted in the elections. This highlights the need for increased student participation in school politics and that is exactly the need that GSG was created to fill. The GSG seeks to improve communication with the administration, showing students they do in fact have a voice which can incite change within their school. In order for this new system to work, there needs to be a commitment of effort from both the administration and the students.