SG hosts first of monthly Town Hall meetings

Podcasting, later hours for Starbucks and a time board for Hurry ‘Cane Shuttles were a few of the upcoming changes announced during Student Government’s first Town Hall meeting that took place Monday in the University Center lower lounge.

Though fewer than 10 students attended, SG plans to host these meetings on the first Wednesday of every month next academic year. The ultimate goal, organizers said, is to make the meetings large campus events that involve administrators, such as President Donna E. Shalala.

During the meeting, the new student leaders introduced themselves, and presented a Powerpoint, which outlined major changes for the upcoming semester. Some of these changes will be implemented during finals week at the end of the school year.

One of the projects SG President Danny Carvajal said is already in motion is the installation of plasma televisions in the food court, which he said was aided by Auxiliary Services. He added the TVs will be installed during the summer and ready for the start of the fall semester so students may watch news, learn about daily campus events and other activities.

Inspired by the success of Cuban Culture Week, SG plans to add more cultural events to Chartwells, which would include live music and special food options.

“Bringing in different organizations and their dining options will allow for more campus awareness about the different student organizations,” said Molly Jones, SG vice president.

Recycling is also on the SG agenda. Johweyeh Lowenthal, Town Hall organizer and SG facilities advisory board chair, said SG will be working with organizations such as Earth Alert to add more recycling bins on campus. SG plans to introduce a recycling education program for incoming freshman that would be incorporated into floor meetings so freshmen may learn where to recycle on campus.

Already popular at other college campuses such as the University of California at Berkeley, podcasting class lectures, campus events and guest speakers is another idea being pursued by the new SG administration.

Will Coffin, the Information Technology Advisory Board chair for SG, said the podcasting equipment has already been purchased by IT. The program will be piloted in the fall to see if teachers use the recorders and allow IT to post content on iTunesU.

Another SG initiative involves adding a time board to Hurry ‘Cane shuttle stops so students may know when to expect the next shuttle.

Starting in the fall, Carvajal said that there will be a time board pilot program at four of the major shuttle stops-Stanford, Ponce, Fountain and Dickinson. If the time boards are successful, he said he hopes they will be fully employed for spring semester.

As for changes to take place before this school year is finished, SG, with the help of Chartwells and Auxiliary Services, has arranged for Starbucks to stay open until 4 a.m. during finals week when the Richter Library is open 24 hours. SG members also plan to hand out refreshments and coffee to students outside of Richter during exam week.

Lowenthal said he expected a small turnout, but hopes better marketing will attract more students.

“We have to change the way we [do] PR,” Lowenthal said. “We might need to go to different organizations, table in the dorms or go to big events and make announcements.”

Though student turnout was limited, some of those who did attend felt excited for the changes.

“I didn’t know the town hall meeting was happening until I actually passed by,” Gary Robillard, a junior, said. “I’m really looking forward to the changes that are happening and I think it was a good opportunity to hear what the Student Government had to say.”

Karyn Meshbane may be contacted at