The University of Richmond student government associations are seeking to redefine and more clearly enumerate the roles and duties of a class chair within their constitutions.
One of the changes to the duties of a class chair eliminated the section of the constitution that required them to appoint and meet with a cabinet of students. No current Westhampton College Government Association class presidents have appointed cabinet members nor are there expectations that they do so, WCGA President Penny Hu said.
Another part of the revision creates a formal responsibility for class chairs to “organize at least one Westhampton College engagement/event per semester,” according to the revision ratified by WCGA. They are also now required to send at least one update email to their class per semester. Previously, there was no constitutional requirement for them to engage with the class as a whole.
Other executive roles in student government such as vice president of administration have explicitly enumerated duties in the constitution, class chair, however, has been a loosely defined role with little distinction from other senators, said Sai Poluri, the Richmond College Student Government's class of 2022 chair.
"Having been the class chair and the VP of admin, there is very little distinction between what a chair is supposed to do," Poluri said. "That's why I'm coming at it so hard."
Hu, a junior, and Kerry Fankhauser, associate dean of Westhampton College, discussed the ways in which the current role of class president is outdated and how often those who serve in it are out of touch with their class as a whole, Hu said.
Class chairs are elected for a higher position, but are not required to meet a higher standard of engagement with their class, senior and RCSGA President Anthony Lawrence said.
“Making sure they are engaging with their class and with the community as well, and holding them more accountable to the position they’ve been called to is definitely part of the impetus behind the reasons for the edits,” Lawrence said.
Hu said this edit was among many efforts she and Lawrence had made throughout their terms to build a true sense of community on campus that would be long-lasting.
“They are leading the community, but they are also trying to make their classes' lives a little bit better by giving some goody bags or some kind of activity, so their class knows that, ‘Oh I still feel like I belong to this community, not only to this class community but to the greater Richmond community,'” Hu said.
The name of the role “class president” was also changed to “class chair” in order to be in conjunction with their RCSGA counterparts, Hu said.
Hu and Lawrence said the current class chairs were involved in conversations about the revision early on in the process and have come to support them.
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"I wanna see there being a distinction between senate position and class chair," Poluri said. "Especially since there's only one chair per class whereas there are a lot more senators."
Both governments are considering limiting class chairs to one role on the executive board of their body. Under the previous version of the constitution, a class chair could also serve in any other role on the executive board of their body. Under proposed edits of the RCSGA constitution, Poluri would be the last person to serve as both.
"As for holding both roles, it's a lot to manage," Poluri said. "With all of the edits that have been put in, it would be a lot. VP of admin already does so much and they already run elections, so it would get a little dicey."
These edits will likely not go into effect until the next body takes over, Lawrence said. Therefore, Poluri will retain both positions he serves in for the rest of his term, he said.
Contact copy editor Eli Kline at email@example.com.
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