By Evan Le’Mon, The Whetstone
Newly-elected Student Government Association President Betty Lee said her Board’s focus will be “working for the organizations.”
“Whether a check request is late or something’s going wrong at an event, I want us to be accessible,” she said. “I want us to be there for the student leaders when anything is going wrong.”
Lee, along with Kelsey Fitzpatrick (Vice President), Austin Luna (Treasurer), Kylea Lankford (Secretary) and Jacob Sasso (Chief of Staff) were elected at the end last semester. After celebrating their election, Lee said she and the Board got right to work.
“Kelsey, Austin and I were in Dover all summer, so we were in the office at least once a week working on getting everything ready for this year,” she said. “I think that was really effective.”
Lee said one of the most important goals of SGA is making things easier on student leaders.
“Being on the executive boards for a lot of different organizations in the past gave me a good feel for the frustrations that student leaders have,” she said.
Lee was a part of P.E.A.S., Sustainable Wesley and Fairy Godsisters, and also helped to found the Midnight Roast.
“I wanted to make things better for the orgs, because I know that without student involvement I wouldn’t be here.”
Lee said that the many problems related to event planning were the biggest issues for student leaders during the election.
She said much of the fault lies with Wesley’s administration.
“Sometimes I think it’s forgotten by Wesley’s administration that we don’t actually work for Wesley,” she said.
“None of us as student leaders is paid. So we’re trying to plan events after doing our homework and whatever else we have going on, and yet we’re still expected to get these things done immediately. Then when we can’t get something done right away, they’re unwilling to help us.”
Lee said that many student leaders get frustrated and give up on certain events because they feel like certain staff members vital to the event planning process aren’t flexible and willing to work with them.
“We feel like they should be taking more of the bulk of responsibility than the students,” she said.
To that end, the new SGA board has been working on streamlining the event-approval process. Lee said they started with a breakdown of all the documents that must accompany the Event Information Form.
“The EIF tells you what forms you have to turn in with it, but it doesn’t explain what some of these forms are and where to find them – especially the tax forms,” she said. “So we made a flow chart for small meetings, and another one for large events with vendors so that someone who’s filling out the EIF can just go step by step.”
Luna said he made some changes to the check request forms.
“In the past, if you were submitting a check request for more than $500 you had to fill out a completely different form called a purchase order,” he said. “To keep everything consistent for the orgs, Dr. Barnhardt (SGA adviser) and the business office, we’re going to have the orgs only fill out check requests from now on, and if the request is more than $500 then I’ll transfer it to a purchase order myself.”
In addition, the Board has also been working on the “pizza tracker” idea that was proposed by SGA Presidential runner-up Raymond Lewis-Samuel and former SGA President Destiny Hollis.
“Kudos to them, because that was an awesome idea,” Lee said. “Originally it was going to be on Adobe software, but we found a way to do it all on Outlook since we’re all checking our e-mails all the time anyway. That way, anyone on the SGA Board can see it and if anyone comes to our office we can tell them exactly where their EIF packet is.”
The new system is currently awaiting approval from the Maintenance Department and Wesley’s newly appointed Chief Financial Officer, Belinda Burke. Lee said the Board anticipated that this step would be difficult.
“The difficulty has been with Reservations, especially, because they work for all these other different departments that they have to get input from,” she said. “So the biggest issue in our initial meeting was that it would be a lot of change, but then everyone else in the meeting chimed in and said they thought that this would actually be really helpful.”
When they tried to plan a second meeting, Lee said they were told at the time that Maintenance’s time was devoted to renovating Carpenter.
“That was disappointing, but now we’re working on setting another meeting with them and the CFO,” she said. “We and Dr. Barnhardt have had meetings with the CFO on her own, and her office is now using a mock version of the system just to try it out.”
Impacting the younger students is another important part of Lee’s vision for SGA.
“All of the students are important, but I want us to get to know the freshman really well,” she said. “Hopefully we can create a lasting effect that will inspire them to eventually become student leaders too.”
Luna agreed that getting freshman involved is crucial to student activities at Wesley.
“If we have organizations that are made up of all seniors, we’re going to see certain orgs start to slowly die out,” he said. “We’ve been going around to the freshman dorms, getting their input on events they’d like to see and trying to get them involved early.”
Besides joining organizations, Sasso said that student body participation at events is something he also wants to see increase this year.
“Part of our mission this year will be driving that up,” he said.
Lee said she envisions SGA “personally inviting a ton of students to events,” and for at least one SGA board member to be at every event.
Fitzpatrick said the board has also been tackling several smaller tasks, like getting a new printing kiosk and rewriting the SGA Constitution.
“We’re just really trying to clean house and ask the hard questions,” she said. “We want to make it easier for the next board after us to really break some things down and make serious change.”
In order to be effective in accomplishing these goals, Lee said that cohesiveness will be necessary.
“If I’m in the office and someone comes in with a question for the treasurer, I should be able to answer it,” she said. “The treasurer should be able to answer a question for the secretary. We should all be on the same page as an org.”
Keeping this unit intact doesn’t come without its challenges, however.
“Our schedules can get wild,” Lee said. “We all have different majors, one of us is an athlete and another one of us is a Canon Scholar.”
Lee said the Board sat down before the semester started and worked it out so that they could have two executive board meetings every week.
“We’re also in constant communication with each other in our group chat,” she said. “I think that’s going to be really helpful with setting goals for the week and getting them done.”
According to Fitzpatrick, the board has been doing well so far on that front.
“We have a good dynamic in our office,” she said. “We all actually like each other, so that helps because we’re not afraid to critique each other’s ideas and push each other to be better. We’re all go-getters.”