SGA attends conference to instill sense of community

David Hutter

Student Government Association members addressed concerns voiced by Quinnipiac students, discussed ways to govern more efficiently, and fostered a sense of community at the organization’s annual retreat at Camp Jewel in Colebrook, Conn., from Sept. 16 to Sept. 18.

The retreat also served as a way for the organization’s sophomores, juniors and seniors to become acquainted with the 10 newly elected freshmen members.

“Just getting everyone together and welcoming the new members makes me extremely excited about the upcoming year,” said Steve Geller, SGA president.

Along with the 40 voting members, four university members attended the retreat.

Geller, a senior marketing major from Framingham, Mass., gave a presentation that detailed the structure of the university’s administrative hierarchy in an effort to teach association members the correct person to contact to discuss a particular issue.

Mark Antonucci, association vice president of student concerns, said the retreat setting fostered a more relaxed environment than the groups’ weekly on-campus meetings.

The low-key weekend gave the students more time to think about how they can improve the governing body. One way to do so, he said, is to carefully listen to the input of constituent students.

“We want to make sure we put the people before the politics,” Antonucci said. “We need to step back and listen fully to everyone.”

To demonstrate the importance of listening, vice president of public relations Benjamin Oser led an exercise in which he played an excerpt from a song and then asked students to identify the song. Most students guessed incorrectly.

The exercise is analogous to the need for association members to not just hear part of what constituent students say, but, rather, to hear every word they say, association members said.

Additionally, Oser gave a presentation about the value of students conducting themselves respectfully in interacting with university faculty and staff as well as with bosses and co-workers.

“It’s important to be professional and to address people with the proper titles,” said Oser, a senior marketing and psychology major from Cranbury, N.J.

According to Anthony Vindigni, vice president of programming, one way the students became better acquainted with each other on the retreat was through performing an exercise in which students took turns being blindfolded and directed through the woods by a non-blindfolded student.

“[The] point of the exercise was to trust each other. It’s huge for the organization,” Vindigni said.

Joey Vines, vice president of finance, said the retreat gave him the opportunity to realize that association members of every class play an integral role in the association.

“I learned not to discount the freshman,” Vines said.

For Ed Kovacs, director of the Carl Hansen Student Center and an advisor to the association, the retreat was a success because the students “came together to work as a group of 41 members on how to solve problems and campus issues this academic year.”

The Student Government Association is comprised of 40 voting members in addition to its president. Each class has a president and vice president. The freshman and sophomore classes have eight representatives apiece. The junior and senior classes have six representatives apiece.

The president and the vice presidents of student concerns, public relations, programming, and finance comprise the Executive Board. The association’s responsibilities include allocating $500,000 among university-chartered organizations, with the exception of media groups and Greek organizations.

Students who wish to express their ideas and concerns to association members may do so by attending weekly meetings on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. in Room 207 of the Carl Hansen Student Center. They can also call the association’s office at extension 8669, visit the office in Room 212 of the Carl Hansen Student Center, or fill out the Campus Issue Form on the university’s Web site.