Nearly a full semester has passed since the election of Student Government Association President, senior Victoria Cline, and Vice President, junior Savannah Masterson.
With the end of the fall 2018 semester in sight, Cline and Masterson reflected on the work they have done so far and their plans for the future.
Cline’s election platform included working with issues of mental health and substance abuse, improving orientation for international students, interacting more with the Chestertown community, and increasing transparency between clubs and the SGA.
Over the past semester, Cline said she and the rest of the SGA have addressed each of these issues.
“We have had an incredibly productive term so far and have overcome a lot of obstacles in order to better the Washington College student experience,” she said.
Beginning with mental health, the Senate passed an SGA platform to make it a priority at the start of Cline’s term last semester.
“I have been able to advocate for mental health at the administrative level by including information and ideas to improve the College’s approach in reports and meetings with the Board of Visitors and Governors, the Office of Student Affairs, the President’s Office and supporting the inclusion of student mental health in the college’s strategic plan,” Cline said.
Cline used funds allocated for mental health in the budget to support the new special interest group, Active Minds, and to fund student self-care giveaways.
She also worked with administration for the development of a “student appreciation day where staff give back to students and give students a pick-me-up mid-semester.”
Cline hopes to continue this work next semester.
“I am looking to partner with Counseling Services to create an event to address mental health in the spring semester, and my staff is continuing to find ways of improving knowledge and accessibility to the CARE system right now,” she said.
To improve the experience of international students, Cline said, “We are working on addressing college policies to make sure international students are considered and educated about such policies, and we have provided funding for more resources for international students upon their arrival to Washington College to help them feel more at home.”
In terms of community engagement, Cline believes the first annual SGA Leadership Summit, during which the WC student government met with SGAs from local counties, was a success. She said she is also proud of the iServe work at Heron Point and a tailgate to recognize local law enforcement and fire fighters.
Addressing another platform point, improving transparency within the SGA, Cline said the SGA has given club leaders more opportunities to be trained as President’s Council members, and changed the approach of addressing organizations with larger budgets like Fraternity and Sorority Life and club sports.
“We also held a club and organization advisor training this semester to teach about Presence and the budget process, and we will hold another training next semester to help improve club leadership transition. I hope that we have fostered a more positive relationship between clubs and the SGA by helping give tools for success,” she said.
Masterson believes that the Presence system may not be the most effective way to record attendance at events.
“Next semester, I am working to advocate to find a different system to use instead of Presence. With so many concerns and questions, I want to bring forth discussion next semester to find a platform that will fit the needs of the school better,” Masterson said.
Communication within the SGA was also part of Masterson’s platform in the spring. Masterson said the SGA will put out a final report to the student body at the end of the semester with information about what they accomplished.
“Everyone has been working so incredibly hard this semester and their work is so appreciated,” Masterson said.
One of Masterson’s other goals in spring 2018 was to continue working on the club and special interest group manual started by her predecessor, junior Brandon Gross.
“The manual is also coming along great. It has been super helpful for me. I’m hoping to finish the manual and work with the next vice president on making final edits to then present to Senate,” she said.
Another of Masterson’s platform goals was to improve the senior career program, Launchpad.
Masterson said that based on student feedback, the SGA made the decision not to hold Launchpad this upcoming spring. The SGA is currently in dialogue with the Career Center about what opportunities might better assist students.
“With the information gathered from last year’s Launchpad, we are looking at what students liked most and what things they wanted from the experience to come up with a better event to fit the students’ needs,” she said.
Masterson also believes that new student spaces like the Commuter and Veterans lounge, a place for veteran and commuter students to relax, work, or store belongings between classes, and the SGA conference rooms, open for club and student organization meetings, will improve the student experience.
“We are excited to provide these spaces to students where they can come to collaborate on ideas, have executive meetings, and have a space to work on things within their clubs,” she said.
Among the SGA actions this semester she is proudest of, Cline said she is excited for the SGA sponsored event on Dec. 8, a “Holiday Game Celebration.” Cline hopes students will “take a break going into finals week and enjoy holiday giveaways, a Sho’troupe halftime show, and a visit from Santa courtesy of President Landgraf.”
Cline said she is also proud of how well the SGA has interacted with faculty and administration to voice concerns, and hopes to continue this next semester by improving relationships between students and staff and decreasing the response times for maintenance request communications.
“I have learned how to enter a room as the only student there and not be intimidated but instead be inspired by the possibility for change,” Cline said. “I have been encouraged by the administration’s desire to work beside me and listen closely to solutions to the problems the student body faces, and I am looking forward to continuing this work.