Photo by Ally Hill ‘15
Seeking to reinvent Student Government’s role as a resource, advocate, and bridge between the administration and faculty for students, Connor Heinlein ‘15 foresees his term as Student Government President as “loud and active,” one filled with major reforms and simplifications to the way central organization handles all aspects of student life.
“My biggest overall goal would be to take Student Government and reaffirm its status as a powerful advocacy group for students; a valuable resource for students,” Heinlein said.
Heinlein believes that currently, students perceive student government as solely funding organization for clubs and organizations on campus, but his hope is that will change under his direction.
“I have seen…that Student Government is often times defined as exclusively a bank meant to fund our student organizations,” Heinlein said. “And while that is an important and necessary part of what we do, there’s so much more that we could deliver to the student body.”
“My goal is to implement – as many as I can – student services for the students so that both they are assisted and their collegiate experience is enhanced, and so that we can be recognized as this group that really has the power to help students.”
At the heart of this reform are suggestions made by the Exploratory Committee on Programming Facilitation, which Heinlein served on, to change the way services such as funding are provided to student organizations. The committee, whose meetings took place before the start of this semester, created a report that proposes changes to club practices, like changing the requirement for forming new clubs. A lot of what the committee recommended was derived from practices already in place at other schools.
“We’re taking a look at what the powers that we have been, by custom, relegated,” Heinlein said. “[For example,] the funding…we’re seen as the funding, we do the funding, and we’ve taken a great look, a comprehensive look, at our current system for how we facilitate the programming of clubs and organizations, and that’s a project that will be coming in a couple weeks.”
Student Government is also looking to begin a program called the Student Voices Initiative, which, according to a briefing sheet, is “designed to solicit greater student feedback for more informed representative[s] and a more informed direction.” The initiative includes plans to hold Constituent Student Tables, where students can come to Student Government members twice a week in Farinon to ask them questions and give them comments. Student Government will take the remarks, and students will receive responses to their feedback and answers to their questions.
The plan also includes initiatives to use social media to interact with students more frequently, such as releasing weekly polls to gain input from the students. Lately, Student Government has been using their Twitter account to collect suggestions for a new hashtag to replace Lafayette Athletics’ current hashtag slogan, “#rollpards.”
Heinlein also hopes to utilize Student Government’s close relationship with the administration to be a bridge between students and the administration to bring concerns of the students to the correct administrators.
“We expect our communication with administrators to be as strong as it’s ever been, and then be more productive and efficient than it’s ever been,” Heinlein said. “We are the liaisons between the administration and the students. We recognize that role and we want to do it well.”