By Zachary Rice
At the Student Government (SG) general body meeting on Nov. 3, the Structural Innovation Task Force presented an idea to restructure SG. The plan — proposed by Chief of Staff Lakshmi Gurram and arts and communications senator Peter Corso — included creating assistant vice president positions, creating roles with clear responsibilities and forming a committee with representatives from all divisions of student government to enhance their cohesiveness.
“SG is a very inclusive environment, we have a great community. [However], cabinet members have too high of a workload,” SG Chief of Staff Lakshmi Gurram said.
The proposed assistant vice president role offers much-needed relief to cabinet members who currently have a high workload.
“The workload is too high for cabinet members. I know that I am a little overwhelmed, and I don’t see this framework not working out,” said Sophomore Class Secretary Noelle Halikman.
These support roles do not just offer relief to the cabinet members, but they also allow for more ways to get involved in student government and get more experience in leadership. Corso said it would probably be easy to fill these positions because of the amount of external interest in SG.
These assistant vice president roles would be nominated by their respective cabinet officers at the end of the school year, and those interested would fill out an application and undergo an interview over the summer. The nomination would be locked in by the cabinet and then presented to the general assembly.
The plan also looks at a restructuring of divisions that delegates responsibilities of certain divisions into other ones. One of the biggest proposed changes is to the vice president (VP) for Administration and Finance. They are looking to split that position into two positions: VP for Campus Operations and VP for Financial Affairs.
Under the current structure, the VP for Administration and Finance is essentially responsible for overseeing all campus operations like grounds and maintenance, facilities, financial planning, financial, capital and programmatic affairs and SG finances. Looking at the proposed structure, the VP for Campus Operations would take care of parking services, information technology, facilities and assume the role of Chief Technology Officer. The VP for Financial Affairs will oversee Student Government finances and financial, capital and programmatic affairs.
The third idea for change proposed in this plan is to have “Siloed Workstreams.” The idea has representatives from across all divisions of SG on coordinating councils. This means that the Council on Governance, the Academic Affairs Council, the Student Affairs Council, the Campus and Community Relations Council, the Inclusive Excellence Council and the Internal Operations Team will all be sitting in one room to communicate. This will allow SG to collaborate and share information with each other in a way that they have never been able to do before, according to Gurram.
From Nov. 4 to 8, feedback sessions will be analyzed. By Nov. 8, SG will make revisions and then draft the bills. On Nov. 9, they will submit their final framework to the General Assembly. This is proposed to be in effect by the spring 2022 semester.
Another new bill was also presented that changes the prerequisites to be able to run for executive president and vice president. The bill stipulates that in order to run for these positions, the student must be a current or past SG member serving in Cabinet as a senator, class council or delegate. Corso explained they wish to add these qualifications because the two top positions require much more knowledge of SG than any other position. This bill is set to be effective immediately.
Furthermore, the American Sign Language club was voted on unanimously to be officially recognized by the College. The new club, People4Plants was also discussed. People4Plants is dedicated to gathering support from students and staff for the Sustainable Landscaping Policy that was signed off by President Foster. Though the policy was signed off on, the club needs more support from the TCNJ community to get the ball rolling on their efforts in biodiversity by planting, and cleaning up the algae bloom in the lakes.