On Wednesday, Oct. 9, the Drew Student Government convened for their weekly meeting. On the agenda for this week the Senate was updated on various ongoing discussions with university committees, as well as updates on student concerns raised at previous meetings.
The meeting began with President Vincent Costa (‘20) debriefing the body on ongoing conversations he is having with the University Technology Committee regarding changes in student accessibility to class materials. Costa revealed that the university is working towards implementing the Open Educational Resources Initiative—a new measure that would potentially cut student spending on textbooks and required reading materials, thus cutting costs not included in annual tuition. In short, the initiative poses that professors make textbooks and other necessary materials available online via resources that are free and easy-to-use for students. The initiative has been popular thus far in select science classes at Drew, where professors have begun experimenting with alternative online access to necessary class resources. This transition comes in response to urging from the New Jersey Department of Education for all colleges in the state to submit a plan to make necessary classroom materials more affordable. Efforts from the committee to implement these changes will continue alongside conversation with faculty members in upcoming semesters.
A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussion of Drew’s Budget and Organization Board (BOB) and the future of its relationship with university clubs and organizations. In the past, BOB has had a poor reputation among the student body, largely because of its role in dictating budgets for student organizations. In hopes of repairing this relationship, Vice President of Campus Life and Student Affairs & Dean of Students Frank Merckx and Director of Student Activities Meghan McHugh have organized an open meeting for all BOB clubs to voice concerns, discuss restructuring and update the board’s bylaws on Tuesday, Oct. 22, in LC 28. One of the major changes for restructuring is the introduction of an election cycle based on the calendar year for all clubs. With this new policy in place, seniors will be elected to new advising positions rather than the presidency or other major leadership roles in an effort to curb senior burnout and provide a smooth transfer of leadership from one year to another. Some members of the Student Government voiced concerns regarding this change. President Pro Tempore Chris Zanardi (‘20) brought up concerns about how budgeting will be conducted if a club’s entire e-board is seniors, and Senator Graham Munro-Ludders (‘22) asked if the new policy is a requirement from BOB. Merckx responded by promising that the transfer of leadership will have “more grace in the future” and will create more sustainable structures, and that while senior advisement may be a suggestion this year, it will be a requirement in years to follow. According to Merckx and McHugh, BOB is open to hearing all feedback in order to improve club leadership and participation for students.
Updates on the DOYO’s student accessibility were presented by Senator Annabel Winchell (‘20) after a discussion with Associate Professor and Arts Department Chair Claire Sherman. Sherman said that the DOYO should be open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily and that, while students may not be able to enter the building past 12 a.m., any students still working in the building past closing are allowed to stay until they finish.
A group of students from the government body have met with Dean Merckx regularly to maintain pressure on Aramark to address and resolve student concerns surrounding dining. Thus far, specific input from students, such as diversity in daily fruit selection has been successfully implemented, as well as a guarantee that hot food will not be taken away until 8:45 p.m.
Student Government meetings are every Wednesday in EC 145 starting at 9:15 p.m.