Student Government Remains Active, Despite COVID-19

by, Colleen E. McNamara, Staff Writer

Despite challenges amid a global pandemic, the Student Government Assembly has been working to ensure a fun and exciting year for students. SGA, which consists of the executive committee, the assembly, and the student court, has made it their mission this semester to bring virtual events to Manhattan students as well as keep them informed of global and campus news, especially during this unprecedented semester. 

Shannon Gleba, Anthony Bradley, and DeVaughn Harris, officers for the Student Government Executive Board, shared what they have been working on this semester. 

As Student Body President, Shannon Gleba oversees a number of committees on campus through her work with John Bennett, executive director of Student Engagement, Richard Satterlee, vice president of student life,  and Tim Ward, dean of engineering and professor of civil engineering at Manhattan College.

Student Government started their meetings and event planning earlier than any other year by managing several important tasks. The downtime many experienced due to COVID-19 afforded the members of the executive board the extra time needed to build a rapport with one another. 

“Typically when a board is elected they do not start until September, when we can have in-person meetings all together,” Gleba said. “This year was unique, we started looking at disease related and inequality and unrest issues going on in America right away. From the start, we were involved in conversations about returning back to campus since April.”

This fall semester has challenged SGA to respond to changes quickly and effectively. Aside from ensuring students, staff, and visitors are safe, Student Government has partnered with Black Student Union on how to further implement diversity and acceptance on campus.

Anthony Bradley, executive vice president, plays a large role overseeing the budget allocations committee, the club oversight committee, and the social life committee. Additionally, Bradley aids Gleba when she facilitates discussions with the entire administration. 

“Recently, I personally have been brought up to the Board of Trustees to work on the strategic planning committee to see the future vision of our school, which is something that affects our school in the long run,” Bradley said. “So basically, we are constantly and persistently making sure this semester has been running smoothly with everything going on while still working on the social life and events for the students to ensure that we still have a sense of community, which is very important to us.”

Unique to this semester, Student Government has focused on entertaining students through virtual socially distanced activities. Their current focus is continuing to bring these events to Manhattan College students, while prioritizing the happiness and healthiness of the campus community. 

Recently, SGA has partnered with the Lasallian Women and Gender Center, and started a plan with the Friendly Fridge Initiative to do their part in providing food and safety to the Bronx. 

“The hardest part of being a college student in a pandemic, is the fact that you can’t really connect with other students,” Gleba said. “One of the biggest parts of college is building those relationships.”

In his position as Vice President for Residential Affairs, DeVaughn Harris strives to field concerns from residents on campus to the director of residence life. 

Due to safety concerns, such as overcrowding in the residence halls, the typical residence hall programs have been minimized. Though this is unfortunate for freshman and transfer students looking to meet new people, residential affairs have created alternative activities online to keep the community engaged.

Cody Ko Lecture and Movie Nights

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, Student Government and Student Engagement hosted a speaker event with famous YouTuber Cody Ko which drew 300 participants — perhaps more than even the in-person version would have room for under normal circumstances.

“John Bennett is very adamant about holding events that [SGA] and our students are interested in,” Gleba said. “We felt that Cody Ko was someone who was very popular and interesting, so student engagement reached out to his manager and we set it up.”

The movie nights in the quad courtesy of Student Government were successful, allowing students to enjoy films while remaining socially distant on blankets spaced apart. This series of showings culminated on Friday, October 30 when SGA organized a Halloween movie night with food trucks stationed in the Jasper Hall parking lot.  

Additionally, Clinton Green, vice president of Residents Students Association, decorated the quad with halloween decorations, giving students the opportunity to get creative pictures with them. 

COVID-19 Notes

Gleba, Bradley, and Harris, as well as the rest of the Student Government team, are pleased to still be on campus and optimistic about the future. 

“We would like MC to know that this semester has not been easy, however, it has definitely been successful,” Bradley said. “We are thrilled to see the student body acting resilient in these times, and our social events have been quite successful due to our student population. We love to see clubs remaining growth, as well as proud to see that our coronavirus testing has been largely successful which proves our student body has been following protocol.”

Much to the delight of many students, the collective discipline and diligence of students and faculty at the college have allowed some in-person classes and events to take place. 

“I’m excited that we’ve been able to last this long on campus,” Gleba said. “I’m impressed with the social distancing and mask wearing of our students here, especially when schools around us are getting sent home. This is a testament to how special our campus is since we are responsible in making the right decisions for the betterment of our community.” 

Due to the success of the Fall semester, SGA plans to expand on the platform set in place, moving towards an even more successful spring semester. 

“A big thank you to the entire Manhattan college community for doing their part during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Harris said. “For staying safe, wearing masks, maintaining socially distant. Few people were optimistic about this semester given the size of our students, and we made it through. Whatever happens next semester we are going to operate the same way, if not more efficiently. It’s an odd, challenging and taxing semester mentally, physically, and emotionally, but I’m proud of us for making it through so far.” 

General Assembly Meetings

The Student Government holds an assembly meeting every other Wednesday, open to any students to attend so they could voice their opinions on any important campus-related topics. The whole purpose of the assembly meetings is to discuss strategies toward working with other organizations on campus, and to learn what Student Government may be doing right or wrong at a certain point in time.

“We’re here to help, to be your representatives, if you reach out were always willing to have a discussion and do what’s best for you,” Gleba said.

 With only three weeks left until the campus vacates for the rest of the semester at Thanksgiving Break, the student government executive board is actively working to make sure both remote and on-campus students have the full information they need to efficiently make decisions about the spring semester. 

Editor’s Note: Shannon Gleba is a member of The Quadrangle’s staff.