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ISSUE 117 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/27/2004

Doin' It: Greta Goerss, SGA, Student Rights Committee Chair

By Shayna Melgaard
Staff Writer
and Lisa Gulya
Staff Writer

Friday, February 27, 2004

There are some student conversations that pop up constantly on the St. Olaf campus -- take discussion of the cafeteria food and hours, for example. The cafeteria is one aspect of campus life that most students deal with on a daily basis, and many no doubt have ideas about how it can be improved. That is where Greta Goerss `04, comes in. She chairs the Senate's Student Rights subcommittee, which works to address student concerns about food and beyond. To productively put their ideas into action, students can take their suggestions and criticisms to Goerss instead of just rehashing them with friends. As a first-year, Goerss served on the Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC), the primary liaison between the Board of Regents and the student body, as the Class of `04 representative. She filled that position for two years. After working as a Junior Counselor (JC) in Kildahl, Goerss is now back with BORSC as the Observer and as head of the student rights subcommittee. Goerss and seven other students meet four times a year with the Board of Regents to discuss different student-related concerns. "We're always looking for issues to take before the board, she said. As the SGA website states, the student rights subcommittee is in charge of bringing issues that affect the rights of students not only to the Regents, but also to the student senate. This year, the committee has tackled several issues. These issues include, but are not limited to: registration, parking and off-campus students' rights. Goerss stressed that "The book outlines important information relating to student rights. A lot of people don't know how many rights and privileges they have, she said. Campus safety has always been an important issue, but it was definitely elevated when a string of sexual assaults occurred this fall," Goerss said. For that reason, her subcommittee has been involved with the implementation of different safety measures on campus, such as the blue lights in several of the campus parking lots and discussion of possible twenty-four hour keycard access. Environmental concerns are also something with which the subcommittee deals. After all, said Goerss, the idea of sustainability "fits so well into the campus mission statement." Student rights issues don't exclude issues concerning academics at St. Olaf. When the nursing major was threatened earlier this year, the subcommittee got involved. This issue hit close to home for Goerss, a nursing major herself. Goerss' subcommittee is responsible for the feedback boards, which have appeared this year in the Fireside Lounge. Students are encouraged to give their opinions about different topics which affect them. For example, in the next few weeks Public Safety will be discussing student comments about parking with Senate. Additionally, the student rights subcommittee will be meeting with parking office coordinator Donna Hunter. They will then post the questions they discussed with Hunter for students to see. The subcommittee has decided that parking will be their main issue this year, though they still welcome and encourage students to bring other concerns to them. Part of the challenge for Goerss, and likely for others in Senate, is that while "subcommittees have existed, this is the first time in recent years that SGA executives have really used subcommittees," according to Goerss. President Christie Larson '04 and Vice-President Seth Heringer '05 looked anew at the bylaws, and subcommittees are being used much more this year. Talk Back Tuesday, as Goerss said when the Senators table outside the cafeteria during dinner, is an excellent way place for students to ask questions and voice concerns. The questions are then addressed at Senate meetings. Students can view the discussion of the questions in the online minutes of the Senate, under "hot topics" or "Hill hype." Students also should keep in mind that although "we like to see things done now," Goerss reminds, "student leaders are working for the future." She urged that students bring their comments to Senate regardless of their immediacy or urgency. If any student wishes to contact Goerss and the student rights subcommittee, they can be reached at Their meetings, Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in the student activities office, are open to the student body.

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