After spending five semesters on the LSA Student Government, LSA juniors Anne Laverty and Jeff Larkin have their sights on the organization’s top positions.
Laverty and Larkin, who are running uncontested for LSA-SG president and vice president, respectively, in the elections today and tomorrow, are stressing the importance of making sure the voices of LSA students are heard and valued by their governing body.
Laverty and Larkin became active members of LSA-SG during the second semester of their freshman year and currently hold positions on the body’s executive board as secretary and treasurer, respectively.
Laverty said Larkin has extensive experience with budgetary issues and academic affairs, while she has a strong focus on student life at the University. Larkin explained that their different perspectives and past work are, in part, what make the two a dynamic and competent pair.
“The different experiences that we’ve had, bringing that together, it reflects the whole government,” Larkin said. “So I think that’s what makes us really well qualified to run, is we know a lot about everything that goes on because we’ve done so many different things. I personally wanted to be a part of Anne’s team.”
The duo’s platform aims to improve multiple dimensions of campus life, beginning with collaboration between LSA-SG and other student groups and school departments.
LSA-SG currently sponsors Diag Days — in which representatives provide free food and information about LSA-SG to students — but these events have often conflicted with the efforts of other groups that are also trying to fundraise or advertise in the Diag, Laverty said. To resolve issues like this and to get more students involved in LSA-SG events, Laverty said she is planning to limit the number of LSA-SG functions and increase collaboration with other organizations like University leadership councils.
She added that she feels LSA-SG should be more proactive in reaching out to students on campus.
“Right now, student government is just not very reflective of the constituents we represent,” Laverty said.
Laverty and Larkin are also aiming to make the student government more transparent by changing the bylaws that address LSA-SG’s election procedures.
“We’re trying to change that because we want to give more of our body a chance to be involved in who they selectt,” Larkin said.
Another bylaw change they’re considering would call for LSA-SG members to represent a certain group of constituents, rather than all LSA students, in order to increase the accountability of representatives. Already discussed among LSA-SG members for some time, the proposed change would involve defining each constituency based on specifics like concentrations or locations of constituents’ residences, Laverty said.
“We can learn more what students want if you’re dealing with the same group of constituents the whole time,” Larkin said.
Laverty and Larkin are also striving to make the LSA-SG website more interactive for students by updating the minutes of weekly meetings, detailing the resolutions passed by the government and adding a forum through which students can provide input.
“Hopefully by allowing students to ask questions, we can converse with them more,” Larkin said. “That will get more students engaged, it will get more people to join student government and be interested in what we’re doing, too.”
Laverty added that another way she and Larkin hope to gain feedback from students is by introducing college town hall meetings to address pressing issues at the University including campus safety and problems with the LSA course guide.
“We elicit feedback from (students) every semester, but more feedback doesn’t hurt …” Larkin said. “So as we move forward into a new age and a new chapter at the University, what students want is always changing, so we always have to keep up.”