The Student Government (SG) Assembly discussed changes to the position of student liaison to the Board of Trustees at their meeting Wednesday night. Ryan Nelson, a third-year law student and the current liaison, proposed that a student be selected for the position rather than elected by the student body in order to make the trustees more comfortable with greater student involvement.
“The Board of Trustees is hesitant under the current procedure,” Nelson said. “We need to guarantee that we will have a strong student in the position. If we keep on doing it like we have in past years, we won’t have the permanency that we need.”
The Board of Trustees is planning to create a committee on student life at the University that will have one student member, a step towards greater inclusion of students in the University’s top decision-making processes. Nelson hopes that within a few years, students will sit on more of the Board’s committees. Eventually, he would like to see a student as a voting member of the Board, although he believes that the relationship between the student liaison and the Board of Trustees must first be strengthened a great deal.
“My goal has been to mend the relationships that weren’t quite as good last year,” Nelson said.
Nelson proposed having a group of students appoint the student liaison to the Board of Trustees. Currently, the student liaison is elected by the student body.
He likened the proposed approval process to that of the position of student ombudsperson. A committee of nine students four elected by the Assembly, the three incoming SG officers, one outgoing SG officer, and the outgoing liaison would review applications for the position and then select a student. Three faculty members would advise the committee but would play no role in the actual selection of the liaison.
“By institutionalizing this process, we’re hoping to make [the Board of Trustees] feel a little more comfortable with it,” Nelson said.
The Assembly voted in favor of the changes, but the final decision must be made by the student body. The proposed changes will be included in next fall quarter’s ballot. Because the changes cannot be enacted before then, the next student liaison will be elected by the student body.
The Assembly also elected the eight members of the Annual Allocations Committee, which will allocate $195,000 of the collected student activities fees to recognized student organizations (RSOs) for the upcoming school year.
Second-years Maggie Samuels-Kalow and Enrique Gomez, third-year Rachel Thompson, and fourth years Rishabh Puniani and Jessy Beauvais, will join two third-year law students, Ryan Nelson and Matt Schernecke, and Tim McGovern, a graduate student in the humanities, on the committee. John Cottrell, a fourth-year in the College and the current Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) chair, will chair the allocations committee.
SG President Ben Aderson updated the Assembly about SG’s progress this year. He claimed success for their new Web site, complaints.uchicago.edu, and expressed hope to announce a 24-hour library study space for all students soon. SG is also working towards improving the late night van service and including air sickness bags on the vans.
The dean’s advisory council, chaired by Sean Wereley, a third-year in the College, expects to have online syllabi available to students for next quarter. Wereley hopes to get syllabi for 30-40 percent of classes offered next quarter online.
“I suspect a number of professors don’t really like the idea of having class overflow for the first week and then have it drop down to half. I think more knowledge would help everyone,” Wereley said.
A few changes were also made to the funding guidelines for SGFC, including greater encouragement of co-sponsorship for events. The amount of money that SGFC would fund for pizza for RSO events was raised from $10 to $12.
“That pretty much just covered Domino’s, but I figured that if you’re in Chicago, you should get to have Chicago-style pizza,” Cottrell said.