By Erin Shanahan
Fordham’s fall academic semester was characterized by several major events that shook the University, such as several bias incidents and the presidential election. Fordham’s United Student Government (USG) responded to these events in several ways throughout the semester while promoting initiatives and changing its system.
Daniel Stroie, GSB ’17, and Eli Simon, GSB ’17, made several personal initiatives during their spring term as USG President and USG Vice President, respectively.
In response to the bias incident which occurred in September of this semester, Stroie and Simon worked with the executive members of the other “Big Four” organizations on campus: Residence Halls Association, Campus Activities Board and Commuter Students Association, to respond to the situation and create “Diversity Month.” Together, they created a month’s worth of programs promoting diversity among the community. In addition, Stroie and Simon worked to create a video regarding diversity, which was uploaded onto the USG website this past Friday.
“We wanted to highlight the differences among our community and celebrate them,” Stroie said. “There are a lot of different people at this university and we want them to feel included here at Fordham.”
In regards to the presidential election, Stroie issued a statement on behalf of USG in the wake of the results.
“This election, this campaign, has created rifts in our communities and our country, with so much happening over the last few days,” Stroie said. “I think the one thing we can focus on and tangibly affect is our community, and making sure we come back together while respecting each other’s humanity.”
In addition, Stroie and Simon discussed the results of the election at large with their representatives at their public Thursday night meeting. The conversation was also taken to the following Student Life Council Meeting. However, USG did not hold any kind of programming regarding the results and climate on campus. According to Stroie and Simon, the hesitance to program in addition to the SLC meeting was to maintain USG’s unbiased, bipartisan status on campus.
“The worst thing that we could do is alienate someone we are supposed to be representing and supporting,” Stroie said. “I wanted to remind our senators and VPs to be open to all conversation and offer support to all people during this time, regardless of their opinions.”
In addition to their response to the bias incident and the presidential election, Stroie and Simon are currently finalizing bylaws for the future Committee on Sexual Misconduct. Those bylaws will be voted on this coming Thursday at the final USG meeting.
“We wanted to address hook up culture through this committee,” Stroie said. “We hope to help the university improve resources and assist people going through the CARE process.”
In addition to just the work of Stroie and Simon, their student representatives and committees have made efforts to improve the lives of students here at Fordham.
The Freshmen Senate sent out an interest survey in the beginning of the semester in order to assess what the current freshmen are looking for during their time at Fordham. They are currently still reviewing the results of that survey and are planning to move forward in the spring semester.
Senator Aaron Banasiewicz, FCRH ’18, along with the rest of the Junior Class Senate, passed the Beacon Exemplar Code for faculty and staff members. This award is now broken down by group. The award is given out to a member in each subgroup of the Fordham community. For example, the award will be given out to a faculty member, an administrator, a member of the dining services, a facilities worker and a security member.
“We want to be able to highlight individuals within their specific area of work in the university,” Simon said. “They matter too and we really want to make sure they know that we care.”
The senior class senators are working to provide funding for unpaid interns here at Fordham. Senator Elizabeth Wetzler, FCRH ’17, spearheaded this initiative. The initiative will allow Fordham students to receive compensation from the school to supplement their unpaid fall, spring and summer internship positions nationwide. The fund is expected to launch this coming spring semester.
The USG House Committee has created the Dining Services Advisory Committee at the beginning of this semester in addition to their usual programing events and student life procedures. This dining services initiative was picked up by sophomore Senator Sarah Brown, GSB ’19.
“Last year during the food provider recruitment process, we learned that there were few places for students to provide constant feedback to the food provider.” Stroie said.
This USG committee meets monthly with the Dining Services Liaison, the Resident District Manager House Committee and a Student Athletic Council representative. The committee has also reached out to include a Faculty Senate representative; however, they have yet to hear back from the Faculty Senate.
This semester, the committee was able to acquire an “All Day Breakfast” option at The Urban Kitchen. Next semester, the committee is working to create a meal swipe and declining balance donation program. Aramark is eager to bring the proposal to fruition, according to Stroie. At New York University, Aramark already has a similar program in effect.
“From what has been reported to me, Aramark has been very receptive to the suggestions provided by our Dining Services Advisory Committee,” Stroie said. “The committee and Aramark have created a nice partnership together and I think good things are to come for both parties.”
The House Committee has been facilitating its normal yearly projects as well such as Gaudete Sunday, Festivus and the Art Show. Additionally, in terms of general student life procedures, the House Committee created House Liaisons to assist all clubs in case of any violations.
The Gabelli School Dean’s Council has been working on several initiatives this semester. For example, the council spearheaded the event TEDXFordhamU. This TEDX event focused on the theme “Roots of Change.”
The council also created an academic advisory committee. This council has been working on a survey to determine what aspects of the curriculum need improvements. The survey is expected to be sent out by the end of this semester or the beginning of next semester.
The council has been working to promote Gabelli Vision as Gabelli’s students go-to platform to learn about events occurring in the community.
Next semester, a study abroad stipend program for cultural excursions is expected to be developed and launched. The goal of this program is to promote abroad experiences while increasing the visibility of the study abroad program. Abroad students will be able to apply for a grant for a weekend excursion. While on their trip, they will be required to document their experiences for Gabelli marketing.
“The program will have dual purpose,” Simon said. “Students will be able to experience cultural immersion in a different country while supporting Gabelli Marketing and help increase awareness for the abroad program.”
The Gabelli Council also hoped to begin a food cart initiative. Clubs and organizations will be invited to use the food cart in the lobby of Hughes Hall during the activity block. This will help clubs fund raise and gain visibility
USG’s Operations Committee approved 4 clubs this semester. The new clubs include: Consulting Society, Futurist Club, Tzu Chi Collegiate Association at Fordham and Integrative Neuroscience Student Association. There are four more clubs waiting for approval.
Sustainability Committee hosted sustainability week once again this semester. In addition, they are beginning a trial run for “back of house composting.” The goal of this initiative is to have Aramark compost food scraps from The Marketplace. The committee also plans to place recycling bins around Eddie’s’.
Next semester, the Sustainability Committee plans to increase their visibility through a promotion called “Trust the Tap.” This initiative will encourage students to use the campus’s tap water instead of bottled water. The committee will also be organizing Fordham Flea and The Bronx is Beautiful once again.
In addition to allocating budgets, USG’s Budget Committee has created subcommittees to edit the guidelines of the budget packet. They are planning to propose these guideline revisions by the first week in February to USG and the student body.