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Student Union: A look at the past, present and future

January 23rd, 2014

rsity’s Student Union celebrated its 95th year of service to the University as SU president senior Kim Rossi passed the torch to junior Tim Ficke.

On Nov. 5, 2013, Rossi gave her State of the Union address to prelude the Student Union elections. After a 10-month presidency, Rossi accredited the progress made by her executive board and senate, but recognized the continuous need to improve.

In Rossi’s inauguration speech, she said that she had “four overarching areas of focus” for the 2013 term of Student Union.  These goals were to increase communication, provide entertaining programming, the focus of allocation of funds and bettering the campus experience overall.

In  2013, communication was stressed as a key to building stronger relationships in the JCU community and the surrounding University Heights neighborhoods. Over the past year, junior Brianna Lazarchik, former vice president of communications, worked to spearhead the efforts to connect the Student Union with the views and ideas of the student body.

Rossi worked to enact open communication with the student body with the help of Lazarchik. In her inaugural address last year, Rossi said that the Student Union would work to “use physical suggestion boxes that are to be placed in central areas around campus to get a more tangible expression of the students’ thoughts and opinions.”

When the CN asked various students, the general consensus was that if students had an issue to present to Student Union, their voice would be heard. However, students  were unsure of where to find a suggestion box on campus. Junior Megan Mulligan said she was unaware of where to locate a suggestion box.

Ficke stated in his inaugural address that he wants to “push the online suggestion box through heightened awareness via all Student Union communications.”

In Rossi’s inaugural address in 2013, she stated that SU’s weekly senate meetings could be “sometimes seen as formal or intimidating.” However, she urged that “one should never be afraid or nervous to let the students know what we are doing.”

Lazarchik mentioned her efforts to increase student outreach by “utilizing social media in the best way possible.”

SU also set goals to improve the quality and engagement of campus programming for all members of the JCU community. SUPB achieved high attendance ratings for a majority of events, especially the inaugural Welcome Back Concert at the start of the school year, according to senior Chelsea Gerken, former vice president of programming.

“The Late Night Programs brought new things the campus hasn’t experienced before,” said Gerken.

These programs included the highly-publicized drag show and a performance by “The Office” comedian B.J. Novak.

In Rossi’s 2013 State of the Union address, she proposed that SU would work closely with the Student Organization Budget Board in support of projects around campus. The Student Activity Allocation Committee was said to have allocated the money towards 2013 initiatives such as fitness studio upgrades, new booths in the Inn Between, and a new jukebox for the Atrium. The jukebox is the only one of these initiatives that has been clearly enacted since the allocations last spring.

Amendments to the core curriculum were passed to adjust the required classes for all students. In her State of the Union speech, Rossi labeled these changes as steps toward “bettering the campus experience and enacting effective change.”

Other changes included improvements to the on-campus dining selections, free color printing in the Boler Lab and additional lighting on campus.

Although students have repeatedly requested extended hours for Grasselli Library during the semester, the funds are currently not available.

Ficke’s overarching goal for his presidency is to continue create more transparency for Student Union. He said he hopes students, faculty and staff will understand and value the role of SU in the JCU community.