The first Bates College Student Government Town Hall Meeting took place on Sunday, September 27th. It was an opportunity for anyone in the Bates community to voice their ideas or concerns. This weekly assembly consists of the Executive Council: the president, vice president, up to five student cabinet ministers, as well as faculty advisors and any one else who wishes to attend.
First on the agenda was the chalking policy, presented by Carl Steidel, an Assistant Dean of Students, and Kim Trauceniek, the Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life. As of now, any group on campus can reserve space on Quad walkways through events.bates.edu. Groups can use chalk to write any messages they want, as long as statements are not “threatening” or “libelous.” Messages may not be defaced and may last up to one week. Chalking has been used in the past to promote events like “Coming Out Weekend” to raise awareness of sexuality issues. The question posed was whether chalking space should continue to be reserved and planned for or whether it should be first come, first served. A decision has not yet been made.
When asked what BCSG’s plans are for this year, President Norberto Diaz ’16 vocalized his desire for “senators to learn how to be leaders.” He feels student government has suffered in the past because senators have trouble voicing the opinions of others and enacting change; they simply lack the necessary skills. Trauceniek suggested senators attend a retreat to engage in leadership and bonding activities.
Audrey Zafirson ’16, chair of the President’s Advisory Council, added that in the past student government has focused on “background” activities, such as ensuring campus clubs have adequate funding. Zafirson says that this is really not their role, and that they should instead be “enacting actual change.”
Besides attending these meetings, students who want their voices heard can attend senators’ office hours, which will be announced once elections end. Diaz wants government officers to function more like JA/RCs. According to Diaz, all students should know who their officers are and feel comfortable talking to them about anything and everything.
Town hall meetings, as of now, occur every Sunday at 9 pm in PGrew 301. However, locations and times are subject to change. Everyone is encouraged to attend, whether you have a specific concern about Bates or whether you just want to know what student government is up to.