SGA gives student leaders more power

In response to the large turnout at the first roundtable meeting of the semester, Kelly Carnes, SGA’s executive director of university relations, told the student representatives at the Oct. 25 meeting that the group now officially serves as an ad hoc advisory committee to the Student Government Association.

“We wanted it to be a little bit more. We wanted to kind of upgrade it to a new status,” Carnes said. “So we are getting a lot more power, actually.”

Carnes repeatedly highlighted the organization’s responsibility during the meeting.

“Welcome to the SGA, because you’re now all members,” Carnes told the group. “You’re now working with us, so you can give us advice, suggestions, voice your concerns, give us complaints tell us what’s wrong with it so that we can fix it. And our relationship is the best working relationship that we’ve had.”

In addition to rules about attendance that were addressed at the first meeting of the roundtable, the available guidelines indicate the need for three officers – a chair, a vice chair and a secretary.

Zmarak Khan, SGA president, appointed Carnes as the chair of the roundtable. The guidelines stipulate that the vice chair lead the meetings in the chair’s absence, while the secretary handles all the communication and records the minutes.

Carnes invited the representatives to review their schedules if they wanted a more prominent role in the meetings by becoming eligible for either position by the Nov. 15 meeting.

“If a majority of us want to change something,” Carnes said, “a majority vote can change something on the guidelines.”

SGA Presidental Roundtable
7 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 15, Commonwealth Ballroom

In other business, Carnes announced the creation of a Web site for the roundtable that will provide a roster of organizations in attendance, the mission statement, the roundtable’s logo, contact information for the executive director and meeting times, dates and places. She also told the roundtable members that the site will allow for organizations to announce upcoming events so meeting times can be used more effectively.

William Pantele, the incumbent in Richmond’s 2nd District city council race, discussed his dedication for improving mass transit and for working against slumlords as two of the ways to revitalize the area. Pantele, who was appointed to Tim Kaine’s seat when Kaine became lieutenant governor, has served in that seat for three years.

“So much of the (Richmond) city council job is working on neighborhood quality of life issues,” said Pantele, who visited the meeting as a guest speaker. “And this campus itself, even as spread out as it is, is still a neighborhood. So what I really want to do is to try to do everything I can to make it safe, to make it attractive, to make it fun and worthwhile for you to be here, comfortable for you to be here.”

He focused on Monroe Park describing the restoration of the fountain and the recent tree maintenance.

“We want to create more green areas. We want it to be a place where you can go throw Frisbees, put Wi-Fi all over the park and just try to make it a less intimidating place and a more fun place,” Pantele said. “I don’t have all the answers for that. I certainly encourage you to get involved in the Monroe Park Advisory Council.”

Other speakers included Willie Fuller, VCU chief of police, and Reuban Rodriguez, dean of students and associate vice provost for student affairs and enrollment services. Both men emphasized the importance of communication among student leaders and authorities, and encouraging students to take concerns and questions to them, including disruptions at meetings and other events.

“Our biggest objective is to try to work as closely as possible with our students, in particular with our leadership students,” Fuller said. “(It’s) very important that we maintain a close and honest line of communication with all of our students.”

The police chief said he thinks better communication could quiet some of the rumors about crime running rampant at VCU.

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