Student Government column by Vaasavi Unnava (SBP) and Aaron Gutierrez (SBVP)

Welcome to the first weekly Student Government column in The Tartan! While it would be great to say that this installment is the product of an overwhelming and undeniable outcry by the student body to know the week-to-week schedule of Carnegie Mellon University’s executives and cabinet members, the truth is that student government as a whole can be a cryptic and overlooked subject despite the fact that it formulates so much of our Carnegie Mellon experience. From the tools we have at our disposal on campus to handle personal emergencies, to how we paint the Fence, student government inevitably has a huge influence on the experiences that define our day to day lives on campus.

But what exactly does it mean to be a part of student government? Information can be found online that briefly explains the concept of the agenda that we, as the current Student Body President and Vice President, have designed and are hoping to fulfill in the 2016-2017 academic year with our fellow executives, but details are still sparse on what this process is actually like. With two President’s Cabinet meetings under our belt, I think we have begun to piece together what is required to run this government, and what students can do to get involved.

Student government means innovation. To fulfill the initiatives of Social Change, Fiscal Transparency, and Student Government Transparency we set up, networks must be created by like-minded individuals to strategize effective outreach, to introduce or find new ways to support existing university programs or projects, to coordinate funding for all this activity, and more.

Student government means constant communication and representation. To properly advocate for student needs or relay information from the university to its graduates and undergraduates, executives must listen to their peers to give voice to them and offer solutions to produce the optimal connections between administration and leaders on campus. With astute community observances and inspiration derived from campuses far from ours, needs can be met before they are even realized.

What we in Student Government hope is that this column and this year incites a tradition of openness, motivates meaningful conversation, and inspires reflection on what it means to be a student at Carnegie Mellon as we tackle these three initiatives. We hope to hear your ideas on what components are still missing, or what ideas you have to enhance the Carnegie Mellon University experience. Whether it’s dropping by our office hours on Fridays to exchange ideas, sitting in on a Student Senate or Graduate Student Assembly general body meeting to learn about other initiatives on campus, or reaching out to the SBVPO or SBVPF on any organizational inquiry, there are tons of ways to learn about and get involved in the growth of Carnegie Mellon as an institution and as a home to so many.