Saturday, October 22, 2011

SGA -- thinking ahead

Members of the Student Government Association visited Unity House on October 17th. Stephen and I had both met many of the SGA members, but we wanted a chance to get together with the whole group. Most of the SGA representatives were able to attend -- many thanks to Amy Kennedy for organizing the troops!
Our conversation ranged over a wide variety of topics, from discussion of a Green Fund pilot program, to development of a strategy that would allow year-round access to the bridge to downtown Unity, to my not-so-secret recipe for the maple nut scones we gobbled down.

The issue of winter access to the path and bridge concerns me personally, as I use both frequently. When we moved here in July, I was surprised to learn that the bridge would be closed in the wintertime due to safety and budgeting concerns.  SGA members hope to seek community support to install solar lighting on the bridge and call boxes on the path in the event of emergencies.
But keeping the path and bridge plowed could be the biggest ticket item, especially during winters with heavy snowfall.  SGA vice president Matt Dyer (who has already launched his campaign for the 2028 USA presidency) reported that he'd had some discussions with the Maintenance Department, and that he, personally, would be happy to run a snowblower down the path and over the bridge.

That seemed like a big job for one person -- even Matt. Stephen suggested that we raise the issue with our new director of facilities and public safety, Dan LaForge, and possibly divide the work of snowblowing the path and bridge among work study students. In spite of encouragement from Sarah McCoy, Heather declined an invitation to help out, preferring to continue to do what she does best -- lay down and relax.
Once Rob Eckelbecker was on the scene, we plowed into a discussion of concerns about course access and academic rigor. These included

  • Expanding Unity's reciprocity with other institutions to provide wider access to courses students need to meet their degree requirements;
  • Hiring more full-time faculty to reduce the faculty-to-adjunct ratio and to insure that their courses are taught by discipline-specific experts;
  • Raising salaries for faculty and/or decreasing their current 4/3 course load;
  • Continued flexibility in programming to meet the needs of future students.
All of these points address the sustainability of our campus, whether we're talking about safety issues connected to use of the bridge or academic issues connected to meeting the needs of future students. I'm impressed by the SGA's focus on the future; Stephen and I encourage students to bring their concerns to the president's office and to the Board of Trustees during their quarterly meetings. Students have a direct link to the board through SGA president, Amy Kennedy.

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