On Monday, Nov. 13, the Holy Cross Student Government Association (SGA) held a town hall on the topics of diversity and inclusion in the Levis Browsing Room in Dinand Library. SGA co-presidents Donald Stephens ’18 and Margaret Scanlon ’18 led students and faculty members in a discussion about campus-wide concerns and a subsequent question and answer session.
The town hall’s agenda included an overview of the SGA’s initiatives for the current school year and information on how students can become involved with the organization. Students, faculty members, and other attendees had the opportunity to ask questions both verbally and anonymously via written note cards.
Stephens said, “The 2017-2018 SGA recognizes that Student Government at Holy Cross has historically, and especially this year, consisted mostly of white students. We’re starting to ask a number of key questions about why this is: what are the barriers to participation for other groups of students? How do we create pipelines into SGA for a broader range of students? How do we raise awareness about how to get involved in SGA?”
Questions from audience members primarily concerned racial, gender-based, and cultural diversity, as well as the application process for SGA positions. “As we fielded questions and listened to suggestions, we had SGA members in the audience taking notes,” said Stephens. “We are now in the process of reviewing those notes and creating action plans around the suggestions, which we plan to communicate to students by the end of the semester.”
Stephens noted that the SGA’s most urgent plan of action is to create a streamlined system for implementing the suggestions offered at the town hall. Members of the SGA intend to draft their plans in writing and approach students who made suggestions during the event to get additional feedback. Stephens anticipates sharing the SGA’s plan with the larger campus community via email and social media in the coming weeks and months.
“On our end, we wanted town hall attendees to know that expanding access to SGA for all students is at the top of our priority list, but that this change will not occur overnight. This change will require institutional shifts and a serious examination of the way SGA has done things in the past. We ask for the campus community’s patience and help as we undertake this institutional shift,” said Stephens.
Stephens and Scanlon assured students that their ideas and feedback are critical, and that any students who wish to share ideas as to how the SGA can become more inclusive and accessible are encouraged to send their ideas directly to SGA members via email or to speak to them in person.
“We need some advice and ideas on these questions, and a town hall was a good first step. We used it as a chance to pose these questions, and present some of the initiatives we have in mind to help achieve the goal of expanding access to student government,” said Stephens.
The SGA will host a town hall on tuition transparency on Feb. 8, 2018, in the Rehm library. Students are encouraged to reach out to the SGA via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at Hogan 220 with any suggestions or inquiries.
photo by Emma Possenreide