As the spring semester comes to an end, Wilson College Government Association (WCGA) will hold elections for student officers for 2018-19. These positions include President, Vice President, Secretary, Parliamentarian, Chief Justice, Academic Affairs Chairperson, Constitution and Bylaws Chair, and Treasurer. Yet while the election of student representatives is important, many students may not know exactly WCGA does or how they conduct business.
As part of their purpose, members of WCGA are in charge of the apportionments given to the clubs on campus each semester. Together, they review requests made by each club and determine the amount that is given to those clubs. If a club has any concerns, WCGA invites them to discuss the matter through appeal. This allows club officers to voice their opinions while WCGA helps to ease their concerns—especially those relating to funding.
Dean Mary Beth Williams, advisor of WCGA, comments, “The entire Apportionment Process is discussed in executive session and only announced after the money has been allocated. As is the history and policy at Wilson, the decisions on how to use student fee money is portioned out under the direction of the WCGA officers with my advisement.”
However, while WCGA works toward fairness in the disbursement clubs receives, some students feel that the process is sometimes difficult and that WCGA should work harder to include students in these decisions.
Molly Lemke ’20, who is President of WAAG and Vice President of Allies, notes, “It’s common knowledge that if you need the WCGA to do something, you should prepare for a long battle and/or wait. No one checks the official email. There is barely any information online on their policies and procedures.”
However, as Dean Williams notes, students can attend the bi-weekly General Assembly meetings as a way to voice their concerns, propose ideas, and participate in the decision-making process.
“When students and student organizations see a need for an item or an activity on campus, most often they approach a WCGA officer to start the conversation,” Williams explains. “Usually, those conversations with officers lead to agenda items that are covered in bi-weekly WCGA executive meetings. However, there is always a time for new business on the agenda in the bi-weekly General Assembly meetings when students and student organization representatives can speak to needs and issues of concern as well. Two examples of this were when the WCGA agreed to sponsor Phoenix Fridays in the fall after suggestions from students, and another was when the Spanish Club approached the WCGA asking them to sponsor the Tres Vidas event two years ago.”
In addition to providing apportionments to clubs, WCGA works toward replacing and/or bringing new equipment or experiences on campus for students. One example of this is the new gaming systems and games WCGA helped to provide.
Since the old gaming systems were out of date being five years old, Cody Dunlap ’18, President of the Gaming Club and current Chief Justice for WCGA, brought the proposal to the other members of WCGA to update those systems. With the gaming club taking advantage of the systems, Dunlap offered that the Gaming Club would pay a portion of the costs to update the systems.
“The gaming club paid for most of it through apportionments, which they are entitled to use as they see fit,” explains Dunlap. “This was [the gaming club’s] decision, not [WCGA’s]. WCGA helped to pay a little to help the club out as the student center is a WCGA area. If the students want anything put in, [WCGA] is the go to. We felt it was only right to help out.”
When asked why the gaming systems needed replaced, Dunlap noted that the previous systems were “criminally outdated” and that students have responded positively to the new equipment.
WCGA is also in charge of the renovation currently taking place in Sarah’s Coffeehouse. Renovations began during Spring Break and, though there have been setbacks, renovations will continue on the project.
Daniel Perry ’20, current President for WCGA, brought up notion of renovating and utilizing the space. With approval from Dean Williams, students—some of whom are WCGA members—and faculty members volunteered to stay on campus during Spring Break to begin the process.
Chaplain Derek Wadlington, who is acting as point person on the project, states that the work that has already been accomplished “has already transformed the space.”
“The ultimate goal is to turn it into a student gathering/performance space,” explained Wadlington. “Some new lighting will get put in, and a new sound system, along with a small stage area. WCGA is looking to have regular weekly programming. Ultimately it may have an actual coffee bar.”
If clubs or individual students have an idea that will benefit Wilson students, members of WCGA and Williams encourage everyone to attend General Assembly meetings. The meetings give WCGA officers the chance to discuss what they have done, explain what they are planning to do, and address any new business that may arise.
Perry states, “Because clubs are the foundation of campus activities, they should have a direct voice in being a part of the environment that we, as WCGA, are trying to create here at Wilson.”
Despite club officers being the only students required to attend these meetings, all students are welcome and even encouraged to attend. However, Lemke notes that this is not always possible due to scheduling conflicts.
“They take place during choir (which is fine, it’s a weird time), but also are announced about one day in advance despite complaints about that very practice,” Lemke says. She adds that if student representatives are required to attend these meetings, that “those representatives should have a vote” on the decisions that are being made.
Williams admits lack of attendance at General Assembly meetings has been an ongoing issue for many years and that WCGA would welcome suggestions to increase participation.
“The meetings used to be held in the Dining Hall, but there were constant complaints that no one could hear the officers. So, we moved them to several spots before settling on Sarah’s until the recent remodeling project, and now they are in Warfield,” Williams states. “If you have suggestions on how to get more folks to attend, I’m open to them, and I know the WCGA officers are open to those ideas as well.”
Although there have not been any new ideas recently brought forward by clubs or individuals, WCGA wants to hear more from students and work toward bringing their ideas forward for consideration.
As Perry explains, “We take any and all opinions into consideration. Everything we do is for the students after all.”