Senate policies stand up to other governments
By Ashley Wislock
Over the last year and a half the Student Senate of Lycoming College, SSLC, has introduced and/or passed a variety of controversial policies used to govern the campus’ more than 70 clubs and organizations.
Many students on campus have complained about the new rules. However, most of the policies appear to be common, or even lenient, when compared to the policies of other student governments in similar institutions across the state.
The policies in question range from a proposal last spring to implement a “courtesy hour” on campus to the new rule which requires all clubs who receive funding from Senate to place Senate’s logo on all posters placed around campus. Though all students may not realize the reason behind such rules, SSLC executive board members explain that there are practical reasons behind each policy.
Attendance is required
Sept. 8 seemed like a normal Saturday. However, instead of sleeping off the effects of a busy Friday night, about 100 Lycoming students were in the Jane Schultz room at 9 a.m. for a Senate leadership conference. Senate co-sponsored the event with Office of Student Programs, and the guest of honor was the executive director of the American Student Government Association, ASGA, Butch Oxendine. On Sept. 10 club and organization representatives were required to attend Senate’s monthly Town Meeting in the Schultz room. Clubs are required to have at least one representative at every town meeting.
All these attendance requirements can seem excessive on the surface, but the intent is not to annoy students, but rather to keep clubs informed.
“It has been a well suited tradition to involve our clubs and organizations at town meetings since they (clubs and organizations) are integral parts of the campus,” A.J. Francavilla, Senate executive president, said.
Town Meetings often include important announcements and handouts, such as the Homecoming packets given out on the 10, which are important to students across the campus. Plus, when compared to attendance requirements at other schools, a one hour meeting once a month plus one leadership conference a semester is not so bad.
At York College of Pennsylvania, located in York, Pennsylvania, club presidents are required to attend two leadership workshops a semester. “We also encourage them to host one,” Frank Terranova, YCP student senate president, said. Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA, requires club executives to attend monthly “Presidents Councils,” which are types of leadership training courses, during which clubs are helped with preparing budgets and constitutions, according to York student government president Steven Kurtz.
“These are required to ensure that money issued to clubs is being used properly,” Kurtz said.
The courtesy hour controversy
Monday nights from 9-10 the Wertz conference room is full of students debating, discussing and voting. Approximately 30 to 40 students are weekly attendants of SSLC’s weekly meetings, during which members report on committee meetings, and general announcements from the executive council are made.
Last spring, a proposal was made to institute what was termed a “courtesy hour,” which would prohibit clubs from hosting events during SSLC’s regular meeting time. Though the proposal was voted down during the approval process, the policy remains on the minds of many concerned students, who fear the proposal may resurface.
However, Francavilla assures students that the executive board heard the complaints of the student body. “I do not foresee this amendment being reintroduced anytime in the near future,” he said. Oxendine said that such a policy was not common among other student governments. None of the other colleges surveyed have a similar policy in place.
This fall marked the implementation of a new rule which requires that all clubs and organizations on campus which receive funding through SSLC have to place the senate logo on all fliers advertising their events. Many students have questioned the measure, seeing it more as an annoyance than a legitimate rule.
What these students may not know is that many other schools have similar policies, at least according to Oxendine. “Our research says that most student governments require that,” he said.
While none of the schools surveyed for this article reported having this particular requirement, one school did report having some form of governance over posters and advertisements. Kurtz reported that Lebanon Valley requires that posters receive a seal of approval being they can be posted.
“Anything posted on campus must be approved by our student services office,” he said. “Each (approved item) receives a certification stamp.” Francavilla reported that Lycoming’s new measure is an update of earlier, “archaic” policies requiring clubs to acknowledge SSLC as the source of their event funding.
At the Sept. 10 town meeting, the SSLC “fall initiatives” were announced. They include pursuing student security and parking concerns, continuing to look into a 24-hour computer facility and possibly providing Lycoming alumni with e-mail addresses.
These goals are quite similar to the “strategic plan” currently in place at Elizabethtown College, in Elizabethtown, PA.
“Some projects that the senate is working on now are increasing and/or fixing parking problems on campus, revamping the alcohol policy and creating a student bill of rights,” Carl Marrara, executive vice president of the Elizabethtown student senate. The similarity between the plans shows that Lycoming’s student senate is dealing with problems that that other student senates across the state are also dealing with.
Overall, Oxendine was impressed with work of the SSLC, and has hope for a good future. “This organization has made significant progress,” Oxendine said.
The ASGA Web-site is www.asga.org, and Oxendine’s contact information is available on the site. He encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to e-mail or call him. The SSLC executive board can be reached with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through their Website, www.lycoming.edu/orgs/senate.