Student Government President Olaniyi Solebo delivered a “State of the Government” address on Wednesday, Feb. 2. During the address, Solebo issued five executive orders that outlined SG’s goals for the semester.
Three of the executive orders charge SG members with tasks to carry out over the upcoming months. Solebo intends for SG representatives to develop a student census, meet with at least 50 state legislators and organize a campus-wide community service day.
The remaining two executive orders call for internal changes to SG.
One calls for the Administration and Finance committee to draft an SG budget for the 2012 fiscal year.
The other established a presidential task force that will look into restructuring SG’s system of student representation.
“In the past semester, we have seen a shift in the types of concerns we have heard from students. In previous years, we have mostly dealt with academic concerns,” Solebo, junior political science major, said. “This tradition is reflected in our system. A great portion of our general body is apportioned to representatives of schools and majors. The last few years, and especially this year, we have seen a major shift toward student life issues and class-specific issues.”
Over the summer, Solebo and other SG members conducted an informal study of different colleges’ student governments, in order to gauge how well the College’s system works. During the study, Solebo discovered that of the 21 schools SG surveyed, only four use a representation system based on academic school. Most use a system based on a combination of class year and school.
“Now, while those results show no conclusive trend in favor of either a class system or a different system entirely, they show that more schools are moving in favor of a system that favors class and student life equally,” Solebo said. “A primarily school-based system does not work.”
Solebo hopes to probe the issue over the next few months with the aid of his presidential task force.
During his address, Solebo also expressed interest in continuing to use direct student feedback as a catalyst for administrative action. He hopes to do so by developing a census to document students’ experiences and assess their concerns.
Solebo brought up the recently announced $190,000 Physical Enhancement Center makeover, spurred partially by an SG petition signed by 750 students, as an example of how expressing students’ concerns can lead to action.
“We learned from that situation that in responding to student issues we have to ensure that administrators understand the seriousness of these concerns,” Solebo said. “In order to ensure that our administrators understand the importance of the issues we face, they must know that these concerns have a rational basis and are a legitimate interest
of the student body … The only way to do this is to have the concerns of all students documented.”
Executive Order No. 2 charges SG’s Academic Affairs and Student Services committees with developing this census, to be implemented in the fall.
Solebo began his speech by highlighting SG’s accomplishments last semester. He concluded it by rallying SG to continue to “fight the fights worth fighting.”
“This semester we must address the largest of (the College’s) issues,” Solebo said.
To read Solebo’s full address, go to tcnjsg.org/state-of-the-government-address.
Emily Brill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.