Associated Students changes look to next year

Associated Students is undergoing structural changes, resulting in a new MarCom position and a redistribution of senators.

Sarah Seman, Writer

Associated Students’ leaders hope the development of a new position and the reduction of a Sigma senator will create lasting change to the effectiveness of AS.

“[AS is] in need of lasting functional change,” AS president Lizzie Neely said during her 2010 campaign.

Goals met, need for new plans

Neely and senior vice president John Drebinger realized last October that they had fulfilled almost all of their campaign promises. During their term, they revamped the job description of Senators and set up All Staff meetings where faculty leaders offer guidance to the AS staff in areas like self-discipline and integrity in leadership. Drebinger said that with this knowledge the question became: “What are we going to do now?” The answer has evolved into what is now the newly passed marketing and communications reinvention proposal.

Structural change results in new MarCom director

With this structural change, a new director of the Marketing Communications position has been created to handle all marketing and communications for AS. Some of the responsibilities of the director of MarCom will include brand management of AS, collaborating with AS board chairs to market events and services, conducting at least one survey per year and managing the members of the marketing and communications department. This new position to AS will help students better connect with the resources they have in AS and utilize the organization’s value.

AS changes for the student body

Every student enrolled at Biola is technically a part AS, explained Drebinger, but few of them know the purpose of the organization. Drebinger said AS wants the structural changes to better serve students and to make them more aware of why AS exists and how it can serve them.

Prior to the creation of the director of MarCom position, there was a vice president of MarCom. The vice president of MarCom acted as a liaison between AS and the student body and served as the supervisor of the service department chairs in AS. The reinvent essentially splices this old position in half so that there is one person to oversee marketing and communications and another to oversee the service department. The old vice president of MarCom will be given the new title vice president of Services and will primarily handle the overseeing of the service branch and its connection to the senate.

Restructure result of long process

“[Structural changes have] been a long time coming in a sense, and it’s been a long process of listening to what students want and responding and kind of coming up with some ideas to meet those needs that have been presented to us,” Drebinger said.

The new director of MarCom position will be open to applicants this spring.

Redistribution of senators for one year

Neely made another proposal effecting the structure of AS. The proposal, passed Tuesday, constitutes the reduction of a Sigma senator and the addition of a commuter senator. There are currently 272 students in Sigma, and they have two representatives in the senate. Stewart, which has an almost identical student residency, only has one senator, so AS is aligning Sigma to these similar standards. After testing the new structure for a year, the senate will then vote on whether to change the AS constitution to permanently allot one Sigma senator and three commuter senators

“The way that the senators are distributed is roughly one senator per 300 students,” said Megan Taylor, AS office manager. “Sigma doesn’t have enough students to actually qualify to have two senators.”

At the same time, Taylor said that the “two senators for commuters only covers 600 of what we have, which I think is above 1,000.”

According to numbers given during the March 1 AS meeting, there are 1,237 commuting students. The addition of a third senator would still leave roughly 300 students outside of the one to 300 senator-to-student ratio. Aside from this, commuters are also the most difficult constituents for senators to reach, wrote Neely in her senate proposal.

Commuter senators have difficult job

If senators on campus want to hear student’s ideas or opinions on events or proposals all they have to do is walk out their door, Taylor said. Commuter senators, on the other hand, must primarily use e-mails, not having the advantage of posters in communal bathrooms or sitting outside the dorm to catch the thoughts of passing students.

Stephen Hale, a 2009 alumnus who now volunteers in the Collegium, said that he thinks many commuters are not more involved on campus for a simple reason: “They can’t get involved.”

Hale gave the example of Nationball, which took place this spring on a Sunday night. Commuters attended last semester because it was Thursday and they were already on campus, but no one wants to drive to Biola on a Sunday night. Better representation by senators would allow for these issues to be known, and would result in more commuter involvement, Hale said.

Senior Rachel Delosreyes, a resident assistant in Sigma, did not look on the new proposal as favorably as Hale. Delosreyes pointed out that while she wanted all students to receive fair representation, commuters just don’t participate on campus as much.

“I’m an RA here, and we work with our senators closely, and I see how valuable they are to our community,” Delosreyes said.

Competition for Sigma position heats up

However, the reduction of a senator could have a positive effect on Sigma, Taylor said. According to Taylor, one problem that AS faces is not having enough candidates run for senator, usually only one person per dorm campaigns so they almost automatically get the position.

This semester, there are two candidates running for Sigma senator, said Taylor.

“Normally, if that happened, they would both just automatically get the senator spot because there would be two [positions],” Taylor said. “But, because there’s only one now, they’re going to have to up their campaign. If there’s competition, you’re going to get the better person for the job, instead of just someone who decides they want the job.”

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