September 18, 2019 | 49° F

RUSA Proposes Bill for New Student Center Advisory Council

Photo by Tian Li |

Don Heilman, director of Student Legal Services at Rutgers, discusses the legal services the University offers at the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s meeting last night at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus.

The Rutgers University Student Assembly passed a bill last night that would create a student advisory council for the student centers. 

At the meeting, held at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus, the student-run body discussed the need for input from student organizations in student center use. 

Carlos Costa, director of Rutgers student centers, said the idea of the bill was to recognize that particular populations on campus, including student organizations, should have fair representation. 

“We serve a lot of student organizations,” Costa said. “Sometimes there are inherent conflicts, and we would like to work through these issues.”

Kristine Baffo, president of RUSA, said Rutgers could learn a thing or two from the way other Big Ten schools are running their student centers.

Baffo said schools including Penn State, the University of Nebraska and the University of Wisconsin-Madison offer more services specifically tailored to students’ needs along with a culture that comes with it.

“[This bill] is exciting because it gives us hope that we can move toward that model as well,” said Baffo, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Costa proposed the bill, which proposes the formation of a Student Advisory Council, led by 11 qualified student members who are appointed by student organizations on campus.

The purpose of limiting the council to 11 members, although this could be subject to change in the future, is to ensure that meetings are run efficiently, said RUSA’s Treasurer Justin Lucero.

RUSA’s representatives on the committee would be Lucero and Student Affairs Chair Matt Panconi, both School of Arts and Sciences juniors.

The remaining nine council members will come from the Rutgers University Programming Association, the cultural councils and the Office of Student Involvement, among others. 

According to the bill, the council will advise the director of the student centers on matters related to their effective operation and long-range planning.

The council will help guide and make recommendations to the director on the various issues related to the student centers that arise throughout the year. 

Some of the input from the advisory council would relate to supporting the mission of the student centers, reviewing space and facilities allocations and making recommendations, assisting with future policy creation and suggesting food and retail vendors.

The council also plans to propose strategic plans, goals and key performance indicators to ensure that the student centers meet the current and future needs of students and the campus community.

Baffo said space is a key issue, especially with so many students using the student centers as study areas. 

“There isn’t enough room to accommodate the students,” Baffo said. “Everyone should feel comfortable wherever they go.”

Lucero said this could work to make sure the student centers are fulfilling people’s needs. 

Among these needs, Lucero said, are a lack of commuter spaces and a lack of healthy food vendors.

Also at the meeting was Don Heilman, director of Student Legal Services at Rutgers, to discuss the legal services the University offers. 

“At student legal services, any student at this University can see me about any legal issue that they have whatsoever in complete confidentiality for free,” Heilman said.

He provides legal assistance and representation to eligible university students, holds community outreach seminars and workshops and provides educational opportunities for interested students in the form of internships and externships.

Carley Ens

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