Wheaton College’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its first meeting on Sep. 23. The meeting began with SGA President Aba Lypps ’21 covering the work that the SGA executive board had done over the summer and congratulating newly elected members. SGA advisor Nicole Lombardi spoke about the SGA’s involvement working with club leaders to ensure that safe events are being held, as well as how to host a successful hybrid event.
Lombardi also shared an email containing information about the new “MAP Day” program, which will take place on Oct. 15. It will involve classes being canceled before 2 p.m. so students can learn more about how to get involved with various activities on Wheaton’s campus, including research, career paths, and activist work. Eva Danielson ’22, the Class of 2022 Chair, recommended including information about student work opportunities on campus, which she called “an important part of the student journey at Wheaton.”
Following this, SGA Secretary Abby Cook ’21 said that SGA has a new proposal process with four time slots per meeting, each lasting 20 minutes. Cook invited “the community to come work with [SGA] representatives” in proposing ideas. Cook then brought forward her proposal for an SGA attendance bylaw change, with Meshal Muzaffar ’21, the Hearing Board Chair, presenting the proposal on Cook’s behalf.
Muzaffar mentioned that SGA’s attendance proposal should be updated in times of COVID-19, citing time zone differences. The proposal noted that it would provide “much-needed flexibility” in the roles of SGA members this semester. Danielson proposed an amendment that the SGA advisor be allowed to review the process alongside the SGA Vice President, which was passed unanimously, along with the proposal overall.
Mikaela Savarese, the Accessibility Board Chair, proposed and subsequently led a discussion that suggested making Election Day an academic holiday, stating that it was pertinent to Wheaton’s value of “civic engagement.” Danielson called the idea “wicked good” and noted the precedent in political clubs on campus planning shuttles allowing students transportation to voting locations.
Sofie Weston ’22, in charge of communications and marketing for the class of 2022, suggested the idea of getting a polling place on campus, noting that it would “tie Wheaton to the community.” Victor Edwards ’22, the Education Council Chair, expressed concerns about ideological tension between the more conservative Norton community and the more liberal college population, in the event that a polling place was set up. Chris Bennett ’23, the class of 2023 Treasurer, then circled the discussion back to the holiday idea, motioning for an ad hoc committee to be created. The motion was passed with Savarese being selected as the interim committee chair.
Finally, the meeting was broken up into separate breakout rooms as members filtered into their subcommittees: Finance, Student Life and Services, Outreach, and Operations Committee. The Finance Committee’s advisor, Guthrie Hartsfield, said that the committee is dedicated to assisting clubs in operating “as close to ‘normal’ as possible” during the current pandemic. One way the committee is doing this is by allowing clubs to keep unused money set aside for in-person events that are currently not possible.
There was only one vacant position at the time of the meeting: the class chair for the class of 2021. David Palombo ’21 won the votes when running against Carol Teran ’21 to fill the open position in a runoff election, which was announced on Sep. 25.