By Ethan Greenberg, Student Body President | Illustration courtesy of CCSGA
The 2019-2020 academic year will forever be remembered in the context of COVID-19 and its impacts. As of this writing, over a quarter-million people have died worldwide from COVID-19, including over 80,000 people in the U.S. In some ways, this virus has made the work of CCSGA, and indeed Colorado College, feel inconsequential in the face of such a deadly disease. At the same time, however, it has reminded us of the importance of institutions, communities, and the ability of representative bodies like CCSGA to respond with empathy and quick action.
This article offers a brief recap of CCSGA initiatives and work this year, both before and during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. For a more robust overview, look to the CCSGA email sent earlier this week with the formal end-of-year report.
CCSGA was thrilled to again coordinate voter registration during first-year move-in, during which we registered over 100 first-years. In other voting work, in February, CCSGA submitted a proposal to the El Paso County Department of Elections for a Voting Service and Polling Center (VSPC) at Colorado College for the November 2020 election. We also submitted an addendum in late April to emphasize the importance of a VSPC on campus under certain COVID-19 contingencies. We are awaiting a decision from the Department of Elections.
A perennial goal for CCSGA is to advocate for student involvement on campus committees. In the annual campus committee appointment process, CCSGA appointed 15 students to eight committees for service for the 2020-2021 school year. CCSGA also appointed to various temporary task forces and ad hoc committees, including students on the Task Force on Climate Change, the Science Visioning Committee, the Foreign Language Task Force, and the Innovation Building team. During the fall semester, CCSGA also appointed students to serve on curriculum task forces to review proposed courses under the new general education requirements. We also appointed 12 students mid-year to the Committee on Student Community Standards (student conduct board), a group that had been dormant for at least two years.
In September, following the draft antiracism implementation plan, CCSGA submitted comments focused on the need for a governance structure that included students, because the Diversity and Equity Advisory Board has consistently rejected CCSGA’s requests for a student member. The final plan included such a structure — the Antiracism Oversight Committee — on which the CCSGA Vice President of Inclusion will sit as an ex-officio member alongside three other students.
As CC formed search committees for the three antiracism positions, CCSGA petitioned for students to be included on search committees. We ultimately appointed two students to the student-centered position and one each on the faculty and staff searches. In addition, CCSGA has been involved in feedback sessions during virtual campus visits.
CCSGA was excited to announce a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation and its Bustang regional public bus service. As part of the partnership, CCSGA will purchase Bustang tickets at a bulk discounted rate and those tickets will be free to CC students at the Worner Center desk. The announcement received local news coverage, including from KRDO and Colorado Politics. This initiative builds upon work from the 2015 and 2016 school years which saw students gain free access to the Mountain Metro system via their Gold Cards. The initial rounds of tickets were very successful, with tickets exhausted in less than one week. We were hoping to treat the spring semester as a pilot for ridership and times of use; however, COVID-19 has disrupted those plans. Nevertheless, we hope to resume this initiative when public health allows.
The end of the year took a dramatic and unfortunate turn due to the coronavirus pandemic. CCSGA immediately transitioned to virtual work, including video conference Executive and Full Council meetings. We held the first-ever virtual elections for the Full Council. The entire student group and operating budget application process was conducted virtually, including the Student Life and Finance Committees meeting and making determinations via video conference.
The Executive Council was in consistent communication with the Cabinet about topics ranging from work study to room/board refunds to unnecessary educational resource costs for students under distance learning. In addition, the CCSGA reserve controlled by Dean Mike Edmonds was used with CCSGA’s endorsement as an initial funding source for the College’s emergency fund expansion. CCSGA also funded a food bank for students who remained on campus — Campus Activities operated the food bank.
While our primary focus was campus impacts, CCSGA was also active in national student government coordinating efforts and letters. One called on graduate schools, fellowships, and employers to be flexible when reviewing Spring 2020 grades and accept pass/fail without penalty. Another, which was drafted by CCSGA and received the signatures of over 100 student body presidents, called on Congress to provide stimulus funds to college students who, under the first stimulus act, were excluded if they are filed as dependents on their guardian’s taxes. This effort was covered by Colorado Politics.
Finally, as the College has begun considering future impacts, CCSGA remains involved in multiple ways, including CCSGA members serving on working groups created to address COVID-19 contingencies.
CCSGA remains in a stable financial position. The Finance Committee allocated $115,000 in operating budgets and $96,000 in special events funding. Because of COVID-19, CCSGA saw fewer expenditures both for club operating budgets and special events. Block 8 is commonly the heaviest time for event funding and all of these events were cancelled.
The Finance Committee announced a policy in which clubs can roll over up to 50% of their leftover operating budgets to next year. In addition, the funds that would otherwise have been spent will be rolled over to next year to support continued emergency efforts and potential rescheduling of Block 7 and 8 events.