By Laura Carr
In the past, the Denison Campus Governance Association has been viewed as a bureaucratic organization, but this year, DCGA hopes to change that image.
DCGA president Giancarlo Vita ‘17 and vice president Caroline Mills ‘18 have a vision for the organization’s future that they hope will make the student body feel more included.
“We didn’t really come into this year with an agenda,” Vita said. “The only thing I really wanted to do was to open up DCGA to be more of a conversation, more of an open dialogue type of thing just to gage what students actually do care about.”
Mills agreed, adding, “I think at the end of last year, the student body was questioning our relevancy and we heard that and we’re questioning our own relevancy and looking into the power we actually do have on campus.”
When “last year” comes to mind, many might think of the budgeting process that came under harsh criticism for being unclear and somewhat biased. However, Vita and Mills have plans to change that, starting with more transparency. DCGA has roughly $800,000 from activity fees, about half of the $1.6 million requested last semester.
“I don’t think enough people were aware that we had half of the money that was requested,” Vita said. “We’re going to be voicing how much we have, what we’re working with, what money we can’t touch; we’re going to be as open as possible.”
The duo plan to propose a constituency model in which senators are responsible for serving a specific number of students.
“It’s up to the senators to decide if they want to follow that model. We can’t tell them they need to be talking to these people,” Mills said. “That also goes to show why more of a community-based senator representation would be very beneficial to senate, because when you’re representing a community, you know who your constituents are and you know what issues are relevant to you.”
University President Adam Weinberg has given the pair the go-ahead to “strip DCGA from what it is right now if we need to and rebuild it, make it a model of democracy for the New America,” Vita said.
They hope to make this come into effect by decreasing the use of Robert’s Rules of Order, particularly when it comes to addressing senators. Robert’s Rules of Order stipulates that in order to obtain the right to speak, a senator must be the first to stand when the person speaking has finished, and then state Mister or Madam Chairman. Raising your hand means nothing, and standing while another has the floor is “out of order.”
“I think that [Robert’s Rules are] important when it comes down to voting and things of that nature, but when it comes to actual open dialogue, it impedes us and really takes back from what we could be doing,” Vita said. “We’re not an actual senate –– we’re college students.”
Despite these changes, do not expect DCGA to become uber-political in 2016 when the presidential election season rolls around. As Vita put it: “I hate politics, I straight up hate politics. I like people.”