By Alyssa Sanford
The Wednesday, March 9, general body meeting of Student Government (SG) opened with a discussion about possible changes to the Loop Bus service on campus, updates on the library hours proposal sent to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jacqueline Taylor several weeks ago and an announcement that the College is seeking applicants for a director of the newly-formed Office of Student Involvement.
Vice President of Administration and Finance Tyler Holzer, who serves on the Loop Bus task force, discussed a resolution with general body members that the task force would submit to the College’s administration for further consideration.
According to Holzer, 150 students responded to a Loop Bus survey in Spring 2015 and offered feedback and suggestions for changes to the service. One of the most frequently requested changes was a revised schedule “to make it more accommodating to students,” Holzer said.
The revised schedule, if approved by the administration, would include a daily route for commuting students, staff and faculty. The Loop Bus would start running at 7 a.m. to pick up students at the Trenton Transit Center and drop them off before 8 a.m. classes start, and would then return to the train station at 7:45 a.m. for those who start classes later in the day, Holzer said.
There would also be a shuttle between the College and the train station starting at 5:30 p.m. each day, and it would make several trips back and forth during rush hour, Holzer explained.
Holzer said that he is considering making the Loop Bus schedule accessible as a mobile app because the existing copy of the schedule is difficult for students to read and interpret.
“Frankly, I don’t even understand (how to read it),” Holzer said. “(The proposed app would allow you to) input the time and location of where you want to go.”
Holzer also said that the Department of Computer Science and the Student Finance Board (SFB) would possibly collaborate with him on creating the app.
If any changes to the Loop Bus service are implemented, Holzer says that there “will likely be a nominal increase in student activity fees,” but when asked just how nominal these increases would be, he explained that “it’s kind of up to the Student Finance Board for funding.”
Ultimately, Holzer said that passing the resolution would mean that SG supports the proposal, “not that these changes are actually going to go through” immediately.
The resolution passed with no debate. Holzer will present more information about different options for Loop Bus routes at the general body meeting on Wednesday, March 23.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Darshak Vekaria announced that he received “verbal confirmation from the dean of the library that the library will be open until 3 a.m. during finals week” and that the extended study areas will be open 24/7 once the main floors close.
Vekaria also said that Dean of the Library Taras Pavlovsky and Taylor are working on adding the cost of keeping the library open 24/7 “to the base budget of the fiscal year,” so that next year, SG will not have to apply for SFB funding for the event.
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and SG Advisor Elizabeth Bapasola congratulated the general body for securing funding through the administration for finals week library hours.
“You really represented your student voice, and the administration heard you,” Bapasola said.
Bapasola also announced that as of late last week, the College began searching for applicants to become the new director of Student Involvement.
After the former Director of Student Activities Tim Asher retired earlier this semester, the College has been searching for someone to fill his shoes.
Under Asher’s direction, the Office of Student Activities used to oversee many aspects of student life, including management of the Brower Student Center and Greek life. Over the last decade or so, Asher’s position on campus “evolved over time,” and new offices formed to oversee his duties — Seth Zolin became the Brower Student Center manager and Dave Conner became the assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Life on campus, Bapasola said.
Bapasola explained that during the Fall 2015 semester, external consultants visited the College and concluded that fraternity and sorority life on campus “has been growing quite a bit in the past eight years or so.” The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is expanding and ultimately requires more than a single staff member to manage all of its business, Bapasola said.
As a result, the College decided to merge the Office of Student Activities and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to create the Office of Student Involvement, according to Bapasola.
“About 50 percent of his or her job will be advising all the councils” involved in Greek life on campus: the Inter-Greek Council, the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council and the Unified Greek Council, Bapasola said.
Additionally, the new director will be responsible for co-advising SG. While Bapasola will handle “advocacy issues” and direct committees toward the appropriate offices and faculty members on campus, the director will handle class council affairs and programming needs for campus-wide events, Bapasola said.
The final three candidates will come to the College in early May for interviews with SG members and the College’s administration, according to Bapasola.
Bapasola also spoke about changes to the way the College manages organizations on campus. For instance, Bapasola said she understands that students hate spending an entire Saturday doing “Passport to Programming” each year — a program that organization leaders are required to attend in order to learn about programming.
“We’ll never do it again as it stands now,” Bapasola said, followed by a round of applause. She added that the College is exploring doing these training exercises as a leadership conference of sorts, or possibly as a series of online tutorials and quizzes.
During the cabinet members’ reports to the general body, Vice President of Governmental Affairs Ceili Boles reminded members that SG is co-sponsoring Union Latina’s debate night on Monday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium.
Parliamentarian Ken Rubin provided more information about the event, explaining that “both sides, (Democratic and Republican), will be represented,” and that students will give short presentations on each candidate’s platform and stance on various issues.
Professors from the history department will also give presentations “on why it’s important to vote,” Rubin said.
Vice President of Community Relations Brittany Angiolini discussed the upcoming Youth Outreach Day on Saturday, April 2, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Vice President of Equity and Diversity Priscilla Nuñez announced that TCNJ Epcot will be held on Thursday, March 24, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Brower Student Center.
Alternate Student Trustee Dana Disarno then announced upcoming spring elections for cabinet, class council and head senator positions.
Interest sessions will be held between Monday, April 11, and Friday, April 15. All paperwork for candidates is due on Wednesday, April 20, and elections will be held on Thursday, April 28.
Sophomore class President Kelsey Capestro, noting that many students didn’t seem enthused about the class’ “Date Auction” fundraiser, announced that the class will now hold a competitive eating contest between different student organizations on Wednesday, April 13, and suggested that there might be a cash prize for the winning organization. More details will follow in upcoming weeks.