OUR VIEW: Outgoing SGA slate Summit earns a B-
At issue: Each year the Ball State Daily News evaluates and assigns a grade to the outgoing Student Government Association executive slate.
The Daily News first spoke to Summit when they were campaigning to be the next Student Government Association slate. That was over a year ago, when Summit began with 17 platform points.
Summit’s ambition to continue the points made by previous SGA slate Atlas left them with 25 total points. While many of the points have been adjusted or renamed since they were originally presented, Summit did their best to at least partially complete each goal.
The Summit slate had 25 platform points in total. The slate either fully or partially completed 18 of them.
Connection of minority students with peer and faculty mentors
SGA worked closely with the Multicultural Center, the Big 4 organizations and other student multicultural organizations to promote diversity and provide mentorship to students. Bobby Steele, interim director of the Multicultural Center, declined to comment on the topic.
Create a Diversity Commission
After a racist note was posted to Twitter in September, SGA president James Wells signed the first executive order of the year to create the Diversity and Multicultural Commission. The commission was headed by SGA’s secretary of diversity Gabby Lloyd. SGA held discussions, bringing in outside senators and community representatives to provide feedback to find out what Ball State needs to do about diversity. OPTiC has not yet voted on whether or not they will continue the commission.
Ball State prides itself on being one of the most environmentally-friendly campuses in the state, and Summit set out to support this initiative. Summit worked to get more blue recycling bags placed around campus and worked on making the university more environmentally friendly. Jason Donati, the Stormwater/Recycling Educator with the Muncie Sanitary District, confirmed he worked with SGA on getting more blue recycling bags on campus.
Before Summit took over, Shawn Sullivan, assistant athletic director for marketing and fan engagement, said this goal was feasible, but there were logistics to work out. Summit handled those logistics and paired with the athletic department for events, handing out 500 t-shirts at paint the campus red, serving free hot dogs at home basketball games and supporting two buses that traveled to Indianapolis during Ball State’s baseball game against Indiana University.
Unify small organizations with the Office of Student Life and SGA
The original goal was simple – unify small organizations with the Office of Student life and SGA. While the unity remains unproven, Emily Halley, former SGA Summit treasurer, said Summit did fund 29 small organizations through an online process, allocating $4,600 to help organizations provide things like t-shirts, food and travel costs, among other things.
Student Appreciation Day
Students lined up for hot chocolate, coffee and doughnuts Feb. 8 in the David Letterman Communication and Media Building lobby for Student Appreciation Day. Later in the day, the bookstore donated items for giveaways. In the evening, there was a smores bar. Brock Frazer, former SGA Summit secretary, said they had people come up and say SGA should do it again.
Raise awareness for increasing need for counseling services
Tim Hess, associate director of clinical services, said SGA worked with several offices in Counseling & Health Services to host campus events and Mental Health Awareness Week. Hess said he was very pleased with the events and felt SGA helped increase campus awareness. He also said he is interested in partnering with SGA in the future for similar initiatives.
A resolution passed SGA senate in support of implementing a dead week and was taken up by the Campus Council. Faculty in Campus Council gave feedback to Summit on how they could better support their reasoning for a dead week and did not forward it to other university governance. Wells said Summit was in the process of researching what other comparable universities do with the 15th week of classes. Current SGA OPTiC president Greg Carbó will continue to work on this platform point in the upcoming academic year.
Conversations on oppression
SGA passed a resolution expanding the conversation on hate crimes. Student Senators Zoe Taylor and Ryan Walstrom joined Wells at a summit conference in January at the IUPUI campus where Indiana schools discussed ways to combat different issues facing college campuses, such as sexual assault prevention and awareness, hate crimes and inclusion issues. SGA has also been an active cosponsor with different initiatives and organizations on campus, such as the Interfraternity Council, Greek Life and Step In. Speak Up. Corinne Lankowicz, Step In. Speak Up. president, confirmed SGA’s involvement.
Sexual assault education and awareness
Lankowicz said she was contacted to visit residence halls and inform students and staff about presentations her organization offered. While Step In. Speak Up. wasn’t able to visit every residence hall due to scheduling conflicts, they did visit Studebaker West, Park Hall, LaFollette Complex and Woodworth Complex to inform residents about sexual assault.
Previous slates worked with Cardinal Kitchen, but this year’s SGA senate approved a $1,500 budget increase for the organization next year, said Cardinal Kitchen executive director Madison Lyon. This will help provide more toiletries to students in need rather than food alone.
SGA aimed to allocate $4,000 to students looking to offset the costs of attending different leadership conferences. Applicants filled out a form and were interviewed by SGA members who determined who was worthy of receiving the fund. Summit accepted everyone who applied, allocating $6,800 in total.
This point was continued from the previous SGA slate Atlas. Summit put together a tailgate central at every football game, where they provided giveaways and games for those who don’t choose to drink alcohol. While SGA successfully put together the event, it was not promoted and never had a specific location, leaving many students unsure of where or what exactly it was.
SGA partnered with the Latinx Student Union in March for their “Mi Voz” month of events.
BSU + Muncie Communities
SGA held a panel April 17 with three community leaders discussing how to get students to explore downtown Muncie. Even though it had a small turnout, the panel sparked discussion between students and community members. Halley said the slate initially wanted to host an event including a presentation at Muncie Civic Theatre, a downtown tour and a volunteering event. However, due to scheduling conflicts, none of these events happened.
SGA + BSU Students
The platform point is vague in itself, but Summit intended to engage more students with SGA through social media. The slate developed a communications team and livestreamed senate meetings. However, the last live stream was in December 2016.
Affordable healthy food options
SGA reached out to Dining Services last spring about healthy food options for students. After conversations with dining and meeting with nutritionists, Wells said Dining Services started to include food labels with options like gluten free and vegan in dining halls. Karen Adkins, director of dining services and initiatives, did not respond to comment.
Safety of students on and off campus
The executive slate advocated for increasing the number of LED lights on- and off-campus. The slate advocated for lights to be put in the Campus Master Plan which was successful. The slate also spoke with Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler, and Wells said said he wants to see streets well-lit around campus.
International student engagement
Initially, Summit aimed to pair international students up with a host family, but Wells said this was not possible due to the travel ban issued by President Donald Trump in January. Summit also spoke with the International Ambassadors Association, but Wells said they had to “throw this point out.”
Cultural training initiative
Wells said the Multicultural Advisory Board wanted to provide workshop trainings related to diversity. SGA vice president Ana Batres was originally working to develop programs similar to Safe Zone training, expanding the focus on topics such as race, ethnicity and religion. SGA was unable to get the initiative started because of the “largeness of diversity,” Wells said. The focus now is for OPTiC to start workshops.
Study locations on campus
This point is not completed because the original intention of the platform point was to get the L.A. Pittenger Student Center to be open 24/7 during finals week. Summit reached out to the Student Center but did not receive a response. Halley said Summit prepared “survival kits” filled with food and other items to help students through finals week. However, the platform point was to expand study locations on campus, which did not happen and therefore the platform point is not completed.
News From The Nest
The last email with the subject line “News From The Nest” was sent campus-wide March 31, 2016 by former SGA Atlas president Jack Hesser. Wells sent no monthly emails to the student body nor did he post to BennyLink with any updates.
Could not confirm
Pothole of the month
The pothole of the month was a continuation from the previous executive board. Summitt completed one pothole of the month, but Wells was unable to recall any other potholes that were featured. The Daily News was unable to confirm how many potholes were filled.
Relationships with advisors
The slate said they paired with the Council for Alumni and Student Engagement with the goal of improving relationships with academic advisors. The executive board participated in the Faculty Appreciation Day along with some SGA senators. The Daily News was unable to confirm SGA’s participation in the event.
Lunch on board
This point was continued from Atlas to provide funding to take students out to lunch. Wells said students “really liked that,” and added that senators asked their friends to get involved with it, as well. Town Hall meetings were not a part of the initiative.
Some of Summit’s more ambitious goals that they achieved included their sexual assault awareness and education initiative, the creation of a diversity commission and the funding of small student organizations. Throughout the year, the slate also did their best to adapt their goals when they ran into issues.
However, we’ve determined that Summit deserved a B- for their work.
One of the biggest issues the Daily News found was the constant renaming and readapting of their original platform points. As the year progressed, they adjusted some of their original goals, while also renaming them, making it hard to tell if they actually completed their original goals or not.
Also, when James Wells called out senators including Alex DeLong for attempting to strip Wells of his ex-officio status, it signaled to the student body that SGA is not always a unified front and at times cannot reach compromise.
Overall, we thought many of their platform points lacked detail, making it hard to determine the feasibility or measure the success of each point.
While Summit did their best to achieve every goal they originally set or took over from Atlas, it proved to be a little too ambitious. Overall, we believe Summit did well during their term, but 25 platform points is too ambitious for any slate in our mind.