Fresh Faces Means Fresh Ideas for SGA

Photo courtesy of Brendan Illis.
Photo courtesy of Brendan Illis.

By Will Edwards
Managing & Online Editor

Supported by reallocated funds from the dissolution of the semi-formal dance, as well as what he described as an increased level of enthusiasm in the Student Government Association (SGA), student body Executive President John Blaisse says plans are in place for new installments on campus like a “bike share” program, a soiree-like series called “Counsel Conversations” and a senior-only event called “O’Connor Fest.”

A spin-off of the famous Oktoberfest in the German city of Munich, “O’Connor Fest” is scheduled for Oct. 15 and will honor University President Rev. Bernard O’Connor. The free event will be on the campus mall outside of the McShea Student Union, and refreshments and food will be available. Blaisse, who announced plans for the event at Tuesday’s “Senior Soiree” event, says “O’Connor Fest” is meant to be an opportunity for members of the senior class to spend time with O’Connor, who submitted his letter of resignation for June 2017 to the board of trustees earlier this month.

“It’s going to be a nice way to honor Fr. O’Connor,” Blaisse says. “Unfortunately it won’t be a regular event, because of course this is his last year, but it’s going to be a good one so I highly recommend people coming out for this.”

Blaisse also says that SGA is partnering with the sustainability department to develop a “bike share” program on campus. The program would allow students to check out bikes from McShea for a period of time, and, he says, would encourage less driving on campus. An expected date for the program’s launch has not yet been set.

Senior marketing major and SGA’s Parliamentarian Francesca D’Annibale has been at the forefront of the project’s evolution, coming up with the idea while working for the sustainability department. She says the program is timely considering the new parking regulations on campus, and it will offer students a more environmentally-friendly commuting option.

“I felt like it would be a good idea to partner up and have the support of both SGA and the sustainability department,” she says. “With SGA, it’s students helping students. We understand what it’s like to have to walk from Donahue to Campbell or Hurd. Plus, it’s a unique way to get the sustainability department name out on campus, to show people that we are a tangible entity on campus.”

Also new this year is a six-event series called “Counsel Conversations,” another installment only open to seniors. Created under the collaboration of the senior class board, Campus Ministry and the DeSales Experience, the series will be in some ways like SGA’s Senior Soiree events, but will have a more reflective and theological focus with each one centered around a different Golden Counsel of St. Francis DeSales.

“It’s going to be a small, hour and a half retreat experience,” senior class president Mike Cammisa says. “We’ll have two five-to-ten-minute presentations by students about the [counsel of the month] and how it has applied to their lives, and how it will apply to our lives moving forward after DeSales. And then we’ll break off into groups of eight-to-ten and talk about our own experiences with that counsel.”

According to Cammisa, “Counsel Conversations” will take place monthly, with the first one scheduled for Sept. 22 at 4:00 p.m. in the Kender/Danko conference rooms in McShea.

Both Cammisa and Blaisse, as well as other members of SGA, have noted a heightened energy in the Association this year, as they continue to grow and mold their restructured system that took effect under the leadership of ‘15-’16 Executive President Savannah Risser. They say both that restructuring and the support from Nick Luchko, director of student life and the adviser for SGA, and other university officials has helped foster a culture that promotes healthy change and new ideas.

“We are a small Catholic University that does this, this and this, and it’s hard to say let’s do that–it’s different, let’s give it a try,” Cammisa says. “And I think Nick [Luchko, director of student life] is really good at being one of those people that says let’s do something different, let’s be spontaneous, let’s change it up…He’s pretty much given us the reigns to plan and organize events that we see fit, and he’ll support us.”

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