Kip Lynch ’22
The student government met on Sunday, Mar. 8 in order to discuss changes in social life on campus after fraternity suspensions and how the coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected, and how it may further affect, student life. The Student Government Association (SGA) also heard presentations by Justin Landry from ConnPIRG and Matin Yaqubi ’23 from the International House (iHouse). The SGA also heard updates from several committees and discussed the possibility of creating the position of Social Media Liaison. The meeting initially took place outside on the main quad, but later moved to the Smith House.
The Sustainability Committee discussed possible activities for the SGA table at GREENFest, with the idea of a drive for turning t-shirts into dog toys being the most popular. The Student Organization Oversight Committee revealed that it has been having trouble meeting as the backlog on approving clubs increases. The Women & Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC) Liaison discussed upcoming events for Women’s Herstory Month, such as the screening of Knock Down the House on Tuesday Mar. 10 and the Women at the Summit Herstory Trivia Night on Thursday, Mar. 12. The Housing Committee discussed its plans for meeting this week in order to review appeals. The plans for the Soapbox Derby have progressed with the event now poised to include a concert in front of High Rise and food trucks on Vernon Street.
Justin Landry described ConnPIRG to student government representatives as an organization funded and led by students. It receives $5 from every student per semester through the Student Activity Fee. Landry discussed how its funding goes towards hiring professional staff, campus organizers, lawyers, and lobbyists. With the intention of remaining accountable to students, a vote will be held in order to reaffirm student support for ConnPIRG in the coming weeks.
Representing the iHouse, Matin Yaqubi ’23 sought funding and sponsorship from the student government for the International Show, which will be held on Friday, Apr. 17. Aiming to showcase student diversity through a series of performances, this will be the show’s 10th anniversary. In a unanimous decision, SGA approved $200 in funds for the event.
Many members of Greek Life made an appearance at the recent SGA Town Hall with concerns about overcrowding after the censure of St. Anthony Hall and suspension of Alpha Delta Phi this past January. Director of Campus Life Kathryn Wojcik and Inter-Greek Council President Case van der Velde heard SGA concerns and suggestions on how to ease the pressure of overcrowding at Greek houses. They discussed their progress on hiring more security and patrol staff. Wojcik and van der Velde also discussed their work with the Office of Student Activities, Involvement & Leadership (S.A.I.L.) on hosting more events on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. SGA suggestions varied from hosting a roller skating or ice-skating event to holding alcohol-free parties at cultural houses.
The SGA also discussed recent developments in the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak with Dean of Campus Life & Vice President for Student Affairs Joseph DiChristina. With seven students in self-quarantine after coming back from a conference where an attendee was later diagnosed with the disease, DiChristina fielded a number of questions from SGA representatives on how COVID-19 could potentially affect students. DiChristina emphasized that none of the seven students exhibited any symptoms of the disease when examined at the Health Center.
The SGA also expressed concerns around finances and how Trinity would respond if the campus were shut down. In the event of a campus shutdown, DiChristina stated that students from areas with a Level 3 Warning from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State would not be forced to return home and that the college is open to housing students through the summer at little to no cost. SGA representatives also expressed interest in being included in administrative meetings on COVID-19.
Despite the Curriculum Committee’s preparation of a memorandum on moving college courses online, DiChristina indicated to the SGA that the College intends to finish the spring semester. DiChristina also emphasized the importance of students filling out the travel registry form so that the administration can better understand the comings and goings of students. The form is available on Trinity’s advisories webpage.
Finally, the SGA discussed the creation of the position of Social Media Liaison in an effort to address student concerns over the inaccessibility of SGA. The position would increase the social media presence of the SGA by posting photographs of meetings and events. The SGA debated whether the position should be open only to SGA members and whether candidates would have to be nominated and confirmed by an SGA vote.