ASG aims to clear up ambiguity about its cabinet’s functioning and introduce students to each Cabinet member’s role in representing the student body in order to beget transparency and give students easier access to finding assistance for their needs.
According to ASG President Camila Gomez, ’19, students often have trouble understanding who to contact when seeking guidance or other services provided by ASG, adding hassle to the process of obtaining results on both ends.
“We definitely want to sort of demystify that process for people,” said Gomez.
Gomez said that, during ASG’s most recent meeting, the body discussed developing a flowchart that would help simplify and streamline the communication process between students and Cabinet members. The chart would lay out the duties of Cabinet members and describe who would be best suited to answer specific questions so that students will know who they need to talk to.
“I think one of the flaws that we have had internally is that we believe that what we do is pretty self-explanatory and it’s not always that way,” Gomez said. “Ultimately I think that sort of transparency is important.”
The Cabinet is comprised of 12 members — the president, vice president, chief of staff, attorney general, director of finance, director of diversity and inclusion, co-directors of student affairs, director of communications and press, director of sustainability and environmental affairs, director of organizational development, and first year liaison — who each have both specific and general leadership roles in ASG.
Each cabinet member takes on their own initiatives relevant to their position’s duties and also plays a part in some of the bigger picture goals that ASG strives toward.
“There’s kind of a duplicitous sort of job there, where maybe half of the projects that (Cabinet members) do are specific to the individual and half of them are bigger picture issues,” Gomez said.
Director of Diversity and Inclusion Faith Simms, ’19, discussed efforts she and her committee are taking to assist student leaders involved with the recently-held demonstrations over racial bias incidents on campus.
“So right now we have a great opportunity to work with administrators and lead interested organizers to go over bias policy and how the school handles bias incidents, possibly curriculum, and maybe some faculty training,” Simms said. “The school goes over our policies every three years and this year is one of them, so it kind of works out that we’re working to make all these changes because they had to be made anyways.”
Simms also mentioned that her committee is trying to establish a “Rep Your Flag” party at the end of the semester to celebrate students’ differences and integrate them on campus. The party would encourage students to represent their home country, state or other cultural backgrounds they feel embodies who they are and represents where they come from. Simms said that more information regarding this event will be forthcoming.
The focus of Simms’s committee on diverse cultural groups and its specified knowledge of them provides valuable insight that also carries over to more generalized goals of the ASG Cabinet such as connecting ASG with students of all backgrounds and interests.
“We are student representatives, so there needs to be a bridge between ASG and students,” Simms said. “I think that’s what we’re really trying to focus on this year, how to get students to think of ASG not as a separate entity but as one of their own.”
When Cabinet members collaborate they discuss matters in a manner that considers the multiple different insights provided by their positions and what their work within them involves.
“Because we all sit on very different kinds of committees, we all have different opinions about how things should be done,” said ASG Attorney General, Monessha Jayabalan, ’19. “Our opinions are influenced by our committees, but in Cabinet … it’s more of what you think in regards to your constituents or the roles that you hold on campus and other places.”
Beyond discussion, Cabinet members occasionally find themselves with an opportunity to help out with other ASG projects that do not pertain to their usual duties, according to Jayabalan. She described that she helped out with the planning for homecoming even though it does not involve her usual duties with rules and club constitutions.
This specified, yet collaborative dynamic of the Cabinet helps reconcile multiple different perspectives and interests when it comes to ASG’s decision-making and helps provide for a more effective and smooth-running operation.
“It really should be a holistic process, I don’t think that I could make a good decision without asking the Cabinet,” Gomez said. “It’s about adding that thoughtfulness and intentionality of making sure that we’re addressing a spectrum of issues … because as much as I offer my insight when possible, I think that the best thing I could do for the organization and the community at large is to make sure I seek out their input too.”