CSG Brief: At first in-person meeting, members discuss bringing campus community together

CSG Brief: At first in-person meeting, members discuss bringing campus community together

Alice Crow and Jackie Clark

Chatham Student Government members met in-person on Nov. 5 for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting was held in in Woodland 103, and most members were able to attend. A couple still opted to attend via Zoom call, which was projected on a screen in the room. 

Chris Purcell, former interim Dean of Students, announced that he was now Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students during officer reports. New Chief of Public Safety Donna Grossi also attended the meeting to answer any student questions. Grossi said she hopes to promote more communication between students and Public Safety during her time as Police Chief. 

A majority of the meeting focused on discussing how CSG hopes to bridge the divide between athletes and non-student athletes. The Cougar Council was created in the 2019-20 academic year to focus on this mission and is still operating today. 

Many members expressed that a large problem was that there was little incentive for non-athlete students to attend sports games. Due to this, there was little crossover between both groups. On the other side, student representatives hoped that more student-athletes would attend non-athletic events on campus. 

Both Executive President Ryan Tahbaz ‘23 and Executive Vice President Leo Liotta ‘23 were instrumental in starting the Cougar Council and both had thoughts on the issue. 

Liotta noted that the problem is rooted in how the University markets itself differently to athlete and non-athlete students. Stereotypes that the two groups have about one another perpetuate the divide between the two types of students. 

Tahbaz reminded the group that you can’t force people to do things they don’t want to do and worried there was a significant lack of school spirit at Chatham. 

While many ideas for events were discussed, CSG wanted more input from students outside of the organization. If students want to get involved with the Cougar Council or voice their opinions about the divide between student groups, they can email Liotta at [email protected].

Reflecting on October

During October meetings, CSG discussed its major goals and projects, which included mental health advocacy, a virtual suggestion box and closing the divide between athletes and non-athlete students.

Students can scan the QR code on the CSG poster to share ideas or feedback with their student representatives.

Additionally, each class is taking on a project to complete during this academic year: 

  • The Class of 2022 is working on its senior project to install a flower wall near Eddy Theater on the Quad for students to take pictures and to inspire community spirit.
  • The Class of 2023 is working with campus Public Safety to install a ramp by the Woodland steps to make campus more accessible. 
  • The Class of 2024 is working closely with the University on the period poverty project. Students also are working with Student Engagement to plan a class meet-up. The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Carriage House Student Lounge. Students can learn more about the event on Chatham Happenings
  • The Class of 2025 wants to remove the dining tent near the pond and create a community garden in the space. 

Guest Speakers 

CSG also welcomed guest speakers during October. On Oct. 14, representatives from The Jed Foundation (JED), Jennifer Morse, and Cindy Kerr from Chatham’s OAAR came to discuss mental health initiatives for Chatham. JED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the emotional health and preventing suicide for teens and young adults. Morse and Kerr proposed a four-year plan to improve student mental health and access to resources on campus. 

The effort would be led by three committees. The Communication committee would manage the JED-Chatham website for students to ask questions or voice concerns about the plan. The Bridge-Building committee would be responsible for faculty training. The Student Connectedness committee would develop a way to connect students with resources. 

Students will receive an email when the JED-Chatham website is available. Morse said faculty training may begin in the spring 2022 semester. If students are interested in joining any of the committees or voicing their opinions on the project, they can email [email protected].

Juan Mendizabal, the assistant director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, also attended a CSG meeting on Oct. 21. Mendizabal discussed his goals, noting that he hoped to address student divisions between female students, LGBTQ+ students, and athletes. 

Attendance, participation issues

In the Oct. 28 meeting, CSG addressed its attendance and participation issue. Tahbaz expressed his disappointment with seeing black screens during the Zoom meetings and addressing individuals’ lack of attendance. “We want full participation for a better collaboration in CSG’s efforts,” Tahbaz said. 

If students are interested in getting involved with CSG, they can attend the next meeting over Zoom on 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 11. Students can also visit the CSG website to learn more about the organization.