Freshman class council elected for spring #039;09

by Beacon Staff • December 10, 2008

The most first-year students in recent history turned out to vote for their Student Government Association Freshman Class Council on Dec. 5, adding five representatives to Emerson's governing body.

The new freshman council, which has already met twice, includes President Ryan Wenke, Vice President Yareli Morales, Secretary Sophia Solomon, Treasurer Michael Callahan and Senator Patrick Lambert.

Council members said they will focus on changing life in the dorms. First, they want to reform fire safety drills, making them less bothersome to students.

They also want to rework the guest sign-in process. They want to model the system after New York University's, which allows guests to enter any NYU residence hall by presenting a pass and a valid form of identification, which is good for three days.

Guests are not required to sign in or leave any identification with security, according to NYU's residential education judicial handbook.

Also on the docket will be an effort to ban JuicyCampus.com from Emerson, Lambert said, repeating a point he made in his Dec. 2 speech.

These initiatives are the council's pet projects, and are things Lambert said the Council will officially submit to SGA.

"Of course, we still need to find out from [Emerson Police Chief George Noonan] why things are the way they are and what we're able to do," said Lambert of the suggested reforms to the guest pass and fire drill routines. "Right now, it's all hopes, goals, dreams and realities."

Council members said they plan to set up meetings with Dean of Students Ronald Ludman and Director of Public Safety George Noonan before the end of the semester to discuss their spring 2009 agenda.

More than half of the freshman class voted electronically over two days to elect the council, said Danielle Iacovelli, SGA election commissioner.

"We already have their attention," Solomon said. "We're starting out with a really good base."

Lambert, a political communication major, said the whole council was inspired by the droves of students who came out to vote, and that they've definitely stepped up their preparations for the semester in response to the turnout.

"It would be stupid to be sitting on all this fuel and not use it," Lambert said. "I think our class really stands out, and we have this wave [of interest]. Why not ride it?"

Solomon, a film major who ran unopposed, stressed the importance of fundraising. "It's really important to show our class that, yes, we have the funds we need to make [projects] happen," she said.

Solomon said working out the kinks in their legislative goals will be a learning process for the group, but they have been "really productive so far."

The council will start the semester with a $500 budget granted by the SGA. They hope to tap the wide range of Boston businesses for money to fund their endeavors, members of the council said.

The $500 is a standard baseline budget the SGA gives to all new clubs, but members of the council said they are eager to use it, because if they don't, it will be fed back into the general pool of SGA funds at the end of the 2009 academic year.

"It would be great to be able to actually see the money go back into our class directly," said Michael Callahan, treasurer and theater studies major.

SGA President Scott Fisher said the council could use leftover cash to hold an event which could raise money for a scholarship, but money from the SGA pool account cannot go directly to a scholarship for one student.

"It would be a great thing, but the money from the SGA fee is specifically for activities," he said.

The freshly inaugurated class officials remain optimistic about their enthusiasm and spirit. Out of a class of 765, the second largest in Emerson's history, 433 voted, using the online site www.vote.emerson.edu.

The election process was more intense than usual this year, Iacovelli said, attributing the chaos to a larger field of candidates. "There were a few small issues, but everything ended up working really well," Iacovelli said.