ASG discusses elections, virtual meetings and future goals

Now that the fall semester is underway, Allegheny Student Government is preparing to elect their Cabinet and Senate members while discussing future goals for the year. 

Vice President Patricia Gaxiola, ’21, expressed difficulties with preparing for the fall semester after leaving campus prematurely in March due to COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, last semester, we weren’t able to do a majority of the things that we were supposed to have already completed,” Gaxiola said. 

Due to being behind schedule, President Abdikadir Lugundi, ’21 and Gaxiola do not expect formal ASG meetings to occur until October. The application process for both the Senate and the Cabinet will occur virtually, Lugundi said. The Senate consists of five senators from each class and the Cabinet consists of 12 councilpersons, including the President and the Vice-President. 

The signature collection process for elections will also occur virtually through an online form.

“The biggest difference is, instead of having a physical copy of signatures that you need to be on the ballot, it’s going to be through a Google spreadsheet,” Gaxiola explained. 

After the Cabinet and Senate elections, ASG will begin to host their weekly meetings online, but Lugundi recognized that there may be difficulties when hosting an online meeting with a large group.

“Not being able to meet all in one space, it’s kind of hard, especially with that many people in a room and going through the whole agenda,” Lugundi said. 

Associate Dean of Students for Wellness Education and advisor for ASG, Gretchen Beck explained that, even though meetings will be through an online platform like Google Meet or Zoom, constituents will still be able to get involved. 

“There are always two times for constituents to speak and we will continue those opportunities,” Beck said in an email to the Campus. “We are working to make sure meetings are accessible to anyone with an email.”

ASG is also attempting to increase interest within the freshman class by holding informational sessions on social media. 

“I know that (Lugundi and Gaxiola) have hosted various Google Meet sessions and Instagram Live posts with the first year students,” Beck wrote. “We are also talking behind the scenes about other opportunities.”

Lugundi explained that the connection between the sophomore class and the first-year class and using social media are some of best ways to get first-year students informed and involved. 

Because the Involvement Fair will be occurring online and large gatherings are not permitted, ASG and other clubs have to adjust the way they garner interest and participation over the course of the semester. 

Realizing this, Lugundi and Gaxiola are hoping to create a website specifically designed for clubs to spread information and attract new members. 

“Having that information be more accessible is what’s key,” Gaxiola said. “It’s still in the works, but I’m hoping to get it started up maybe this month, like the sooner the better, obviously.”

Despite having to change the way meetings and elections are conducted, Lugundi and Gaxiola expressed excitement about their goals for the year, including fostering positive relations within the Allegheny community. 

One of Lugundi’s goals is to promote a stronger, more personal relationship between students and Public Safety officers. Strengthening that relationship might prevent students from being uncomfortable or fearful, Lugundi said. 

“Our goal (is) to have students know who their Public Safety officers are,” Lugundi explained. “You know, when (I’m) a student walking down the street, I shouldn’t have that feeling of fear. I shouldn’t have any type of feeling.”

Lugundi plans to combat these feelings within the student body by creating a virtual meeting posted on social media where the Public Safety officers introduce themselves and their positions.

Gaxiola expressed similar goals, hoping to support stronger community relations at Allegheny and create more transparency between ASG and other students. 

“I really want to focus on having trust with the student body and being transparent where you could ask me questions and I’ll do my best to answer them honestly,” Gaxiola said. 

Due to the pandemic, Gaxiola also conveyed that she wants to strengthen the community within the student body in order to combat feelings of being isolated from other students throughout the semester. 

“I’m a big person on community. I feel like that’s essential right now. We can’t just go to a room and hang out with friends,” Gaxiola said.

Throughout the semester, Gaxiola is hoping to come up with ways to help bring students closer together, even if they have to remain apart physically. 

“Something we’re thinking about now is that, yes, this pandemic in a way is going to bring you closer to your friends, but it’s also going to separate you from other people,” Gaxiola said. “So how can we go about (mitigating) that? We’re trying to see what we can do to help that situation.”