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A letter from the student body president

By Christos Pietris
On May 7, 2015

Student Government Report

4/30/15

 

Good afternoon, and thank you again for this opportunity to update you on the recent activities of the Marist Student Government. I am grateful for your support and interest in this aspect of life at Marist College.

I want to address three areas: first, the membership of our government; second, an update on the nine key areas of concern that we have identified and prioritized; and third, our accomplishments and aspirations for the future government. 

To begin with, we have recently undergone a transition from the past administration to the new one. The new Student Body President is a young man by the name of Timos Pietris, I can’t say I know him very well, but I hear he is a great guy. We had our transition take place at Christos’s where the event was a huge success. This year we returned to the initial goal of the event and made it more about clubs, I made my farewell address and the transition ceremony finished everything off. We were very pleased with the venue and would be happy to go there again.

The elections went rather well and were very competitive. We filled every class president position and had many candidates run as senators. This coming year will be especially interesting since a number of key roles in the Government were filled by graduating seniors. The new officers are young but filled with passion and energy to make a great difference on campus.

Second, as a government we have identified nine key areas in the past that we would like to address. The nine areas ranked by priority are:

 

1.     Transportation: Airport shuttles have gained significant interest and we have determined that the success of the Spring Break Shuttles would be even better if in the future if there was a shuttle to JFK and LaGuardia Airports—students have expressed strong interest in this. 

2.     21 and up programs: regular situations where students 21 and older can consume alcohol on campus in a safe and controlled environment. Many students have expressed interest in such an event and we are holding the event called, “The Last Happy Hour” where seniors will casually drink with their professors and enjoy a sophisticated beer tasting. 

3.     Sustainability: bike racks and hydration stations encourage clubs not to cater with bottled water. More bike racks have been put in and students were very pleased. We also managed to have a Hydration Station put in the gym. Student reception is great and we hope to put in a new one in Champ and the library because students have determined that it would be the best venues with the most frequent usage. We have been told that more of these will be put in place during the summer. We are still waiting on additional bike racks to go in front of the Student Center, Dyson, Donnelly, and Lowell Thomas. Students have also expressed interest in an additional bike rack in Upper West.  

4.     Athletics: the sports court, potential expansion of the gym, replacement of old and broken equipment. We have received an update from buildings and grounds keeping that stated they have gotten approval of the sports court to be built during the summer recess.

5.     Dining Hall: Students have been more pleased with the quality of food they are receiving from the dining hall. 

6.     Safety and security: blue lights, lighting and traffic control. We have raised the issue of blue lights to security especially for the Gartland side of campus. Many students have expressed concern for the intersection in front of Hancock. They find it to be incredibly dangerous when students are walking from their classes and there are cars trying to move through in between them. Students have suggested we put some sort of light system or crosswalk light to indicate when students should be walking and when cars should have the right of way. 

7.     Parking: Will always be a problem at Marist. A solution would be to establish a shuttle system to different sections of the campus for students who may be injured or have health issues that prevent them from walking long distances. A separate shuttle can make up for the lack of parking by removing the students perceived necessity for having a car on campus. This separate shuttle could frequent nearby locations students may need to go to including the train station, supermarket, and the mall. The cabs have been incredibly unreliable and a number of students have been left stranded and forced to miss their trains. 

8.     Library hours and policies: Better weekend hours and accessibility. We have determined that the students would like the library to open at least an hour earlier on the weekends. They would also like clarification as to why they do not just keep the lights open on one floor and have all the students who are there late at night stay on that floor to conserve energy. 

9.     Student culture: Taking a look at diversity in the broadest sense: racial diversity, sexual diversity, internationality among the students. After the diversity event that took place, it has been a topic of discussion. We have student government representation on a committee organized by Freddy Garcia, as a step in the right direction we can suggest to put up more multicultural artwork around the campus and especially the blank walls of the student center. Unique and interesting artwork from different countries can give students some exposure to cultures of the rest of the world. 

In the next administration, we hope to implement “Supper with Student Government” where students can ask questions during dinner hours in the cafeteria. There are wider areas that have emerged that merit attention. We have determined that since many student vocalized their concerns with faculty and classes that we must take action to better our education process. Students are getting more and more disgruntled with the huge variances in their quality of professors. Students also feel that the evaluations need updating since they appear to be outdated. We had a meeting with Dr. Tom Wermuth and the Deans on the 26th of March to discuss and develop ways to implement all of our ideas and we have been informed that they agree with a number of our initiatives and that they would take steps to implement online course evaluations to replace the tedious paper process we have currently.

Finally I would like to end with some of our key accomplishments in this past administration:

1. Had a proposal to transition to Online Course Evaluations. 

2. Helped revamp the Marist College Academic Integrity Policy. 

3. We have also written and filmed some PSA videos to inform students of the changes being made. They will be released to all First-Year seminar students hopefully (if the policy changes are finalized) at the very start of next semester. 

4. Also revamped the Faculty of the Year awards ceremony—changing the place, food and overall presentation of the event to show the respect and admiration that we have for professors. 

5. We have just begun checking into creating more universal policies in the field of internships and career opportunities, internship bulletin boards in all of the academic buildings and internship advisors/coordinators for all schools are being discussed.

6. In February of 2015, the Class of 2018 hosted P.S. I Love You Day a day where everyone is asked to wear purple to stand against bullying, depression, and suicide. 

7. Collected over 500 signatures in conjunction with Marist Take Back the Tap to have people to pledge to lower the amount of plastic water bottles they use. We also had clubs pledge to use jugs of water at their events instead of individual water bottles. 

8. We advocated putting in a filtration station in McCann and future ones in both the library and Champagnat.

9. We advocated for a mirror to be put in behind Leo to make that area safer for drivers.

10. We resurrected the 21 society and contingent on its success we would like to have monthly events take place throughout the school year in the future. 

11. We started organizing study sessions for students per major throughout the week before finals week where students can ask questions and get help in their preparation for finals. 

12. We advocated for the building of the sports court on the upperclassmen side of campus to facilitate community that will begin in the summer. 

13. We produced two incredibly successful public service announcements with the help of Marist College Television for Title Nine awareness and Binge Drinking. 

14. We have finally made it possible to take on the role of Student Body President as an RA with some negotiation and accommodation. 

15. This past month, on April 30th we hosted the second annual “The Words They Call Me Event” which hopes to be a great success.

16. We fought to change the perception of student government amongst the students and help them realize that we advocate for them and that they should get more involved. 

17. We chartered the Golf Club, United Nations Club and the Best Buddies Program. 

18. We permanently established the position of Director of Safety and Security on the Student Government Executive Board. 

 

Thank you again for your attention and your support. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Christos Pietris

President of the Student Body Ex-officio, Marist College

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