Just in time for their private meeting with McShane, USG put its game face on!
After shepherding a largely inactive fall semester, student government reps got down to business Monday night during the first of this semester’s promising Center Stage town hall series.
The first meeting focused on free speech at Rose Hill.
Despite the 58 who said they would attend on Facebook, roughly 25 students showed up to the well-catered meeting — 11 of those were USG reps, and 6 were members of campus media covering the event.
Still, a number of clubs and organizations were represented at the meeting, including: FET, TOP, Mimes and Mummers, RHA, the paper, FUEMS and Fordham Fanatics.
Women’s Empowerment and SAGES were noticeably absent. Administrators were also largely absent, which was probably for the best.
Although the attendance was relatively low, the meeting — which lasted about an hour — allowed for productive conversation and gave USG reps an opportunity to hear concerns directly from club leaders. It also gave students a chance to hear from USG reps who listened intently and sprinkled context where necessary regarding Fordham’s policies.
Many of the concerns brought up at the meeting were from theater groups. USG sympathized with stories of event registration problems, and vowed to work to establish a resource for theater groups to utilize throughout their approval processes with OSL&CD.
Theater reps also called for more clarity about the specific elements of a show that would restrict it from campus, thus eliminating some confusion and streamlining production choices.
Nevin Kulangara, president of USG, met up with representatives from theater groups after the meeting and said he would work with them.
When asked during the meeting, Kulangara declined to divulge his personal opinions regarding the subjects being discussed. (Though he later agreed that sexual content alone should not necessarily prohibit a play from being performed by students on campus.)
Students also discussed the apparent difference between approving a speaker and approving an artist or musical group on campus.
Many said that despite Fordham’s willingness to welcome speakers over artists, there is actually more of a risk when it comes to bringing speakers to campus. An art work or artist can be reviewed before it arrives on campus, whereas a speaker often has more freedom to improvise or otherwise be controversial, they argued.
Overall, the meeting was successful from start to finish.
A big thanks to Kulangara and all of USG for initiating this meeting and future meetings. Although it may not seem like it, opportunities like these mean a lot to the students who sit through them. And it means a lot to have a student government willing to listen to its constituents — a luxury this campus hasn’t seen the likes of in years. So, thanks!
The trick now will be for students to follow up on questions and build resources for the concerns heard during the meeting. At some point, administrators must also be looped in. But if this meeting is any indication of future efforts, club leaders should begin restoring any confidence they may have lost in USG last semester.
The next Center Stage will be held next month, and it’ll focus on campus sustainability. (Don’t expect a big crowd, but an important conversation nonetheless.)