Student gov’t gets facelift
Posted March 17, 2006

Kady Bell
Staff Writer

In conjunction with a newly revamped constitution and bylaws, the Associated Students Federation Forum will now lead under a new name – ASULV – emphasizing an enhanced organization designed to better represent student interests through advocacy and to encourage two-way communication.

The main consensus among student government officers at ULV following the formation of Campus Activities Board in 2005 was that, with activity planning out of the way, a new direction was in store for the Forum. It was then that the organization’s concentration switched to advocacy.

“We believe that ASULV will serve the students better for multiple reasons,” said ASULV Vice President Rida Fatima. “The focus of the group will only be on advocacy issues and student representation.

“Additionally, there are several mechanisms within the new constitution, such as a clear definition of responsibilities, minimum hours, and other policies which will allow the officers to really be in touch with the students that they are representing,” she added.

Among the final changes made to the constitution, position titles and duties were updated, new positions were installed and the addition of Federal Work Study and student employment stipends were approved, following a referendum held the week of Feb. 27.

A Transitions Team, consisting of Dana McJunkin; ASULV president; Fatima; executive members Chris Skraba and Lindsey Nitta; and Chip West, adviser, was first approved last spring, allowing executive officers to begin constructing an improved constitution.

Fatima also said student ?input was essential throughout the constitution-construction process. After each draft was prepared, online versions were posted and hard copies were handed out near strategic locations, such as Davenport Dining Hall, to initiate and welcome feedback.

“We received great feedback about clarifying things, defining reasons for the new policies and making a few structural changes,” Fatima said. “Once we collected all of the responses, we sat down to work again and came up with the second draft.”

The final draft was composed, taking all suggestions into consideration, over the course of January Interterm.

McJunkin said the restructuring of the organization had helped to create a solid image of unity among officers working toward the goal of strengthening the student government.

“I felt that the change from ASF to ASULV was an important step for the organization,” McJunkin said. “No one likes change, but there are times when it is absolutely necessary. That is what being a leader and believing in leadership is all about.”

One reason behind the name change of the student body government was to stress that it was on hand to serve the entire University of La Verne population. In addition, many private universities typically used the letters “AS,” paired with the college name, to identify their corresponding government organizations, Fatima said.

“We came to a unanimous decision about the name pretty early on because we felt that it was a better representation of the organization and it allowed us to have uniformity with other schools on the West Coast that are similar to us in size,” Fatima said.

Nitta said the name change was necessary in order to bring the renovated organization full circle and advertise new goals.

“It was important to let everyone know that the organization had changed; we’ve become a whole new organization and are no longer doing activities,” Nitta said. “We’re all for advocacy.”

Adding Federal Work Study and student employment stipends was another significant alteration, allowing executive board officers to benefit from the long hours they fulfilled to address representative issues and duties.

“A lot of work goes into these positions,” McJunkin said. “Many students depend on jobs to make their way through college and being required to work at least eight hours a week for an organization and not getting paid for it can be taxing for those students who could really use the financial help.”

Fatima also said she fully supported the modifications applied to the constitution and bylaws as a means of further connecting to the student body.

“I am personally very excited about the changes,” Fatima said. “I believe that the new constitution better equips the student government to serve the needs of students by creating a system of accountability and open communication to represent the interests of the students.”

The creation of new officer titles, such as senator pro-tempores, who will provide all-encompassing representation to the student body, also doubling as a connection to executive board members and acting as a vital part of the checks and balances system, are intended to increase focus on advocacy issues.

Two senators each from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Management and the College of Education, as well as six senators at large, will address concerns originating within each sector in hopes of finding solutions.

McJunkin said the Vice President of Communications position was also added to the constitution to combine public relations and record keeping efforts aimed at eliminating communication barriers between the student government and student body.

“Communication is always a key component to any organization and the best way to be accountable is to make sure that people know what is going on,” McJunkin said.

Overall, Nitta said the Transitions Team had worked hard to build a strong and demonstrably efficient organization.

“The organization will be so much better with all of the changes, as we’ve really gone through everything and created the best organization possible,” Nitta said.

Kady Bell can be reached at rzezna65@yahoo.com.

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