By Noor Lobad – 1851 Staff
Since the start of COVID-19 in March, Student Government Association (SGA) has risen to the task of quickly adapting to the “new normal,” while still upholding tradition as it fulfills its purpose of wholly representing the school’s student body. They have done so while working toward making necessary adjustments during the semester.
Bolstering the organization’s efforts to address student concerns while providing safe means of community engagement is its newly-established Platinum Rule. One of the latest additions to the Lasell University Values To Live By, the Platinum Rule supplements the Golden Rule by stating that in addition to treating others the way you want to be treated, one should treat others the way they want to be treated.
This sentiment has been at the core of all SGA operations as the organization works to ensure not only that students are abiding by COVID-19 safety and social distancing regulations, but that the school is making it as easy— and enjoyable— as possible to do so.
Due to the newly-mandated COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Governor Charlie Baker in November to curb the surge in cases again, SGA had to reimagine the logistics of several of its events. The new guidelines limit outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 25 attendees, and indoor gatherings to no more than 10.
“We’re trying to help clubs be creative and to make these things still happen, if possible. Not everything can be a replica of when we’re in non-pandemic land, but there are other ways to try to make that happen,” said SGA Advisor, Jenny Granger.
With events such as Spirit Day and other annual fall festivities, these rules have meant coming up with new strategies to ensure all students who wish to do so have a chance to join in on the fun. For Spirit Day, which took place on Friday, November 6, this meant setting up two separate spots on campus for students who had RSVP’d to swing by and pick up a t-shirt, as well as an autumn-themed catering box.
SGA also accommodated online students by spearheading a social media Positivity Campaign, in which students submitted statements of appreciation for other individuals at Lasell that were then posted to the SGA Instagram page.
“The hardest part about fulfilling our purpose during the pandemic is that so much is different this year, and there is a lot to navigate when trying to make discussions that will affect this year,” said SGA member and Class of 2021 Committee Member, Amanda Hawkes.
As new COVID-19 related obstacles continue to arise, senior Student Body President Olivia Tata, has named bettering the Wi-Fi on campus one of SGA’s top priorities, due to students’ heightened need for unrestricted internet access in order to attend online classes. SGA and IT have been working in correspondence with one another to conceive solutions to this particular drawback, which many students have been feeling the brunt of.
“The Wi-Fi has been such an issue, and we worked with IT— the CIO [Chief Information Officer] has come to a few of our executive board meetings, and Diane Parker, who oversees IT, she’s still consistently coming to our executive board meetings. They’ve done a lot of troubleshooting, but everyone’s on their devices at the same time, on Zoom or Canvas,” said Tata.
COVID-19 has not been the only defining development of 2020, however. In June, the Black Lives Matter movement experienced a massive upsurge in support. The protests and demonstrations that ensued worldwide in the wake of the unjust killings of Black Americans, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery among many others, have reiterated the importance of individuals and organizations alike actively showing up for Black lives. SGA understands this necessity, and in recent years has industriously sought to ensure it accommodates and highlights the voices of members of marginalized communities at Lasell.
“SGA has tried to do a better job the last five years, in even just presence, and being aware of actions versus words, and actually showing up, and actually being present at things. Sure, diversity things— but also just things in general,” said Granger.
SGA has been meeting online through Zoom this semester and will continue to do so until it is deemed safe to return to in-person meetings— although it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Despite club meetings themselves being held remotely, SGA as an organization has focused its efforts on implementing communication between the school and students who are both on and off-campus, and relaying and addressing student needs as they arise.