Governing Councils update on semester’s progress
A number of student government associations exist throughout Rutgers University. Recently, they have been busy being involved with the happenings on campus.
The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Governing Council recently garnered attention for its involvement in the Skelly Field construction controversy, giving voice to student’s concern about the issue.
Vetri Velan, president of the Rutgers Engineering Governing Council, noticed students in the School of Engineering were not experiencing a crucial part of an engineer’s education: camaraderie.
Velan, a School of Engineering junior, said one of the organization’s biggest goals for this year is to build a sense of community among engineering students.
The EGC serves as an umbrella organization for 28 smaller engineering societies at Rutgers, Velan said. Its top priority is to allow every smaller group to collaborate in a permissive environment.
“It’s important to the student experience and … it’s just an important part of being an engineer,” he said. “Engineering is all about teamwork and kind of building a better future.”
Velan said the EGC’s objective is threefold: to serve as an intermediary between engineering students, faculty and the administration, to give students a voice in the University’s decisions through representation and to oversee all engineering organizations at Rutgers.
EGC initiatives include the growth and promotion of the “NERD Olympics,” which take place during Engineers Week in February, the addition of bus route descriptions at bus stops and the installation of water bottle refilling stations in the Busch Campus Center, he said.
Velan wants to incorporate other organizations into the Engineering Governing Council’s initiatives.
“[We want to] work with the people who have the power to change these things,” he said. “It’s not just EGC doing this. It’s good that we get all the different stakeholders — students, administration and alumni.”
Sterling Johnson, president of the Rutgers Business Governing Association, said the RBGA is gathering feedback from Rutgers Business School students about their specific issues.
“There are many issues that we’d like to address in order to advocate the voice of RBS students and meet their needs,” said Sterling, a Rutgers Business School senior.
The RBGA wants to assess the implications of the opening of the new business school building on Livingston campus, how each student’s classroom experience can be improved and how students can better utilize the Office of Career Management, he said.
A council of business presidents, comprised of executive members of Rutgers’ numerous business organizations, meets every month to discuss each group’s focus and objectives, he said.
“RBGA is continually working to maintain communication between RBS organizations to ensure that we are working together as a community,” Sterling said. ”Since there are many organizations, this tends to be much harder than it sounds.”
The Mason Gross Student Government Association’s main objective is quite clear: to promote the artistic interests of its students, said President Eliza Brennessel.
“We run an independent student project funding program, where MGSA BFA undergrads can apply to us for support for their independent projects,” said Brennessel, a Mason Gross School of the Arts junior.
This semester’s applicants included students who want to pursue independent film projects, dance intensives and independent theater projects, she said.
“This is huge for everyone at MGSA, since art projects and supplies can be really expensive,” she said. “It is so exciting for us to be able to … allow students to pursue opportunities they would not otherwise be able to afford.”
The Mason Gross Student Government Association uses many of its resources to alleviate the numerous financial burdens MGSA students face, Brennessel said.
Comments from students have sparked programs like one that provides at least one free bus ticket to New York City per semester for every Mason Gross School of the Arts student. The MGSGA has received an overwhelmingly positive response, Brennessel said.
Like the Engineering Governing Council, she said the MGSGA seeks to facilitate communication between students and faculty as disciplines change over time.
Whereas the EGC coordinates 28 student organizations, the MGSGA connects Mason Gross’ four constituent departments: Theater, Dance, Music and Visual Arts, she said.
“With the nature of our conservatory training, it is easy to get caught up in our own projects within our department,” Brennessel said. “For me, as president, I am exploring projects that we can create together as a unified school.”
The Pharmacy Governing Council makes a concerted effort to give new students in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy guidance from upperclassman, said Malay Naik, president of the PGC.
“We held our annual Pharmacy Mentoring Program Picnic … this year,” said Naik, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy graduate student. “The purpose of this picnic is to allow all new incoming students and transfer students to get a ‘mentor’ that is an older students from within the pharmacy school.”
He said mentors advise younger students and ease their transition.
The EGC, RBGA and Pharmacy Governing Council are conducting their versions of the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s “What’s on Your Mind” survey to determine where they should focus their energies next semester and beyond.
The Douglass Governing Council was not available for comment at press time.