SGA Forum invites concerns

by Beacon Staff • November 8, 2006

The Student Government Association (SGA) advertised the event as a forum for students to air their complaints and thoughts regarding Emerson.,A need for more off-campus student space and the recent elimination of the escort service were among the chief concerns students discussed at the annual Emerson College Town Hall meeting, held Monday in the Bill Bordy Theater.

The Student Government Association (SGA) advertised the event as a forum for students to air their complaints and thoughts regarding Emerson. Jamal Barone, SGA president, said he hoped to use the discussions to guide future decisions.

"This is really for us to get a pulse on what students are concerned with and what issues they have," said Barone, a senior marketing communication major.

The most-debated topic was the lack of space on campus for off-campus students to go between classes. While off-campus students have access to study areas such as the library, some are unsure of where else to go.

Leandro Caires, off-campus commissioner of the SGA, responded to the questions by welcoming students to use the quiet study lounge in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center and the library for schoolwork.

Students looking to relax with friends can spend time in other areas like the dining hall, said Caires, a senior film major.

Cassandra Fox, SGA executive secretary, said the college did not wish to set up an exclusive area for off-campus students.

"The intention of the college is to set up spaces for everyone, not to set up spaces for just off-campus students," said Fox, a senior theatre major.

Members of the SGA said David Ellis, vice president of administration and finance, has discussed with other administrators ways to make the center more inviting to students, including the addition of televisions or sofas, providing students with more places to lounge around.

Caires also said the problem of a lack of space for off-campus students would be addressed with the completion of the new Paramount project on Washington Street.The building will include 250 residential spaces, allowing more students to live on campus and reducing the need for space designated for off-campus students.

Discussions at the meeting also included the discontinuation of the driving escort service this fall. Until the service was stopped in May 2006, students could use the escort service to hitch a ride back to an off-campus residence.

"It was just a big shock when I found out. When I was a prospective student there was no mention that it would be discontinued," said Rachel Miller, a junior organizational and political communication major.

A walking escort service is still available, but according to Caires, the service is limited to the Emerson campus. Off-campus students may use the walking escort service, but only to travel between Emerson buildings.

Emerson provides taxi vouchers for students who do not live within walking distance of the campus, but charges for the cab rides are applied to student accounts. The previous escort service was free to students over an area from Massachusetts Avenue through Back Bay and Beacon Hill.

The meeting also gave SGA members a chance to respond to an article in the Nov. 2 issue of The Beacon they felt misrepresented a SGA decision. The article reported on the Oct. 24 SGA decision not to allocate $150 for the Torie Snelgrove Scholarship. The article also reported an allocation of nearly $200 for food at the Town Hall Meeting. SGA members said the article drew an unfair comparison between the two decisions.

According to Andy Michaels, a senior TV/video major and executive vice president of the SGA, funding for the scholarship would come out of a "pool budget," but the SGA food costs come out of the funds allocated specifically to the SGA.

"This wasn't anything about the funding," Michaels said. "This was a decision based on us not having enough information."

Barone added that the SGA would discuss discounts on food for student organizations with auxiliary services in hopes of lowering the money clubs spend on food.

Barone said the SGA would use the information from the meeting to improve the lives of Emerson students in the future.

"The most important part is we take what we learned today," Barone said, "and apply it to what Emerson students do every day."