USS senators compare campaign platforms with semester’s progress

Kali Price

Overall, Undergraduate Student Senate has met many of its goals so far and even added several more projects to its agenda.

“I feel like everyone is pulling their weight,” USS Executive Director Ross Miltner said.

Some of the senators have achieved their platform goals, which ranged from connecting the city of Kent to the campus to finding new ways to reach students for polls and surveys.

Some of the senators’ goals have changed; some goals were abandoned. One felt he didn’t have much of a platform at all.

This is the last of three days in which the Daily Kent Stater has examined each of the senator’s platform goals, as well as his or her achievements and goals for next semester.

Sean Groves, senator for business and finance

Sitting at the head of the table in the Student Center Governance Chambers, Sean Groves tapped his gavel and called the Allocations Committee meeting to order Nov. 3.

He began the meeting with roll call and ran through the procedures of the meeting as if it were second nature to him. Although some points of the meeting became tense, Groves stayed calm, holding his intense and serious demeanor, and kept to committee guidelines.

Groves, who is also chairman of the Allocations Committee, had been reminded of the committee’s conduct a few hours before the meeting began. He and Amy Groya, senator for governmental affairs and Allocations Committee vice chair, meet with Judy Ripple, business manager for the Center for Student Involvement, and Della Marshall, associate director of the Center for Student Involvement, before every Allocations meeting to discuss the requests for that meeting and who was requesting funds.

“It sounds like we’re going to have a lengthy meeting,” Marshall said. The meeting however, ended at 5:45, lasting only about an hour and a half.

Fridays are one of Groves’ busiest days. His main duty as the senator for business and finance is to head the Allocations Committee.

This semester, Groves has done a lot of work to make the student organizations that receive funding more accountable for their programming. He and USS programming assistant Annah Trunick have worked with several organizations to plan for programs after they receive money from Allocations.

“What I like most is really dealing with the students in the way I do,” he said, his tone of voice sounding more like a business executive than that of a college student. “I like being able to help students out.”

Groves served on the committee last year as well.

“As soon as I got on Allocations last year, I told Judy Ripple, ‘This is what I want to do,'” he said. “I really get enjoyment out of it.”

He said he felt one of the important parts of his job was training this year’s committee.

“I think one of the most important things is having a committee that is understanding, that has to leave their personal bias at the door and envisions that every student organization that comes to Allocations is going to have a fair hearing,” he said.

Groves said that keeping his personal opinions out of the committee isn’t too hard for him.

“I’m not here for myself,” he said with a thoughtful look in his eyes. “I’m here on behalf of the undergraduate students.”

Christen Coppola, senator for student relations

Christen Coppola walked into the senate office dressed comfortably in jeans and an inside-out Hollister sweatshirt and sat down.

As she sipped on her coffee, she said her favorite part about her position is “getting to know people and building relationships with the other leaders on campus, as well as the administration.

“It’s a real honor to be able to do that,” she said.

Coppola’s platform goals and her accomplishments this semester have included working with the administration.

Coppola said she thinks she completed all of her platform goals. Her goals included having biweekly luncheons for an informal meet-and-greet with deans and professors, attending as many student organization meetings as possible to connect them with the senate and strengthening and continuing the Committee for Student Advertising.

“If you’ve never been on senate before, it’s hard to envision what you’re capable of,” she said.

Coppola has reached some of her goals as the informal meet-and-greets have ended up becoming Coffee with the President, and she has met with presidents of other student organizations.

“I wish I could’ve gotten the President’s Roundtable running at the beginning of the year,” she said. “It fell through due to lack of communication.”

But she said strengthening the Committee for Student Advertising has to wait until next semester.

“I’d like to get it started next semester, if I have time,” she said. “It’s not my top priority.”

Currently, Coppola said she is working on the next Coffee with the President that takes place at 5:30 p.m. today. She is also working to create a focus group for the University Orientation program. The focus group is still in the planning stages.

“It’s to gain a different perspective on the Orientation program,” she said. “The only feedback is the evaluations the freshmen fill out. I don’t feel those are complete. A focus group will maybe fill in some gaps that the evaluations don’t cover.”

Coppola added she would like the group to include all class levels, possibly even seniors.

Another thing Coppola said she would like to do next semester is take time to train her replacement for the 2007-2008 academic year.

“I have a feeling that I’ll have more projects still up in the air, and I want to be helping them hit the ground running in the fall,” she said.

Justin Jeffery, senator for community affairs

Justin Jeffery walked into the Undergraduate Student Senate office Nov. 2 for his normal office hours. He peeled off his gray Kent State sweatshirt and sunk down in his chair at his desk to check his e-mail and Facebook.

The office was silent until USS administrative assistant Katie Hale walked in, looked at Jeffery and burst into laughter. Hale had seen Jeffery’s latest round of Photoshop pictures posted on Facebook. Jeffery tagged Hale in a picture with President Bush and one of Christen Coppola’s face on top of a picture of a llama.

“I just got Photoshop,” he said.

Other senators started to file into the office and made comments about the Facebook pictures. The atmosphere of the office quickly changed as the senators began to talk about food and classes.

But Jeffery does more than sit around and play with Photoshop. As the senator for community affairs, Jeffery said he feels he acts as a liaison between Kent State students and the city of Kent.

“(The most important part is) probably being the middle-man between the city and the students,” he said. “Not many students deal with the city leaders.”

Jeffery said believes the most important work he does is with the University Community Task Force, especially because College Avenue has been such a hotly debated issue with non-student residents.

“There’s a special committee for the neighborhood,” he said. “They spent over an hour and a half and the only thing mentioned was College Avenue.”

Despite the complaints raised by residents, Jeffery said it all makes his job more interesting.

“I think it’s more exciting,” he said. “I wanted to help the situations that arise between the city and students. It gives me a lot more to work towards, especially in the spring when the weather starts getting warmer.”

Jeffery said one of his goals for the spring is to expand the University Community Task Force.

Other than the task force, Jeffery also sits on the Public Safety Committee and the Food Committee.

As part of his job, Jeffery attends Kent City Council meetings with Dean of Students Greg Jarvie to hear residents’ complaints.

“It’s probably the most difficult because you sit there and really can’t say anything,” he said, smiling.

But as far as platform goals, some of Jeffery’s have been put on hold because of the city’s concerns about College Avenue and the transition he’s been forced to make to build relations with city officials.

“Every year there has to be a rebuilding process,” he said. “The atmosphere of the city changes from year to year.”

Jeffery said he hasn’t been able to achieve his FlashCash expansion platform goals yet, but he’s working on it. He worked with Kourtney Wolfgang, senator for research and development, to finish a survey about FlashCash.

But Jeffery’s favorite part about his job isn’t going to City Council meetings. He said he likes dealing with the administration.

“I like talking to them,” he said as he smiled and leaned back in his chair. “I enjoy how my position allows me to get involved. You get to meet the people in this city that you’re calling home.”

Contact student politics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].