Editor's Note: Lauren Oligino wrote for The Collegian.
Junior Lauren Oligino was named president-elect of the Westhampton College Government Association on March 20 after running unopposed.
With her unchallenged candidacy behind her, Oligino is eager to inform students about her proposed policies for the upcoming academic year, as she did not stage a full campaign for president, she said.
“One of the things that I’m hoping to do is to increase transparency and access to resources,” Oligino said. She cited the recent backlash regarding Student Organization Budget and Appropriations Committee funding eligibility guidelines, a framework that determines which student organizations can apply for university funding.
Before critiquing the confusion surrounding the new SOBAC guidelines, she stressed that as this year’s WCGA Chair of Senate, she had never been involved with the financial side of student government policies before and instead operated mostly in the realm of student affairs.
“I think a lot of people didn’t know all of the different channels they can go through for different sources of funding, because it’s not super transparent,” she said. “There’s not an opportunity to look in one place for all these sources of funding on campus that you can go through.”
As president, Oligino hopes to alleviate these kinds of issues by compiling resources for students in more comprehensive, accessible formats to improve the quality of life for students, she said.
“Something I'm really looking to do is, kind of, to increase that transparency to not just funding but other resources, kind of like the New Spiders website, but for current students,” she said. “Like: ‘Here are pages that are helpful for you to know about, especially if you're a student leader on campus, and are running an organization.’”
Oligino has implemented similar policies during her tenure as president of the will program. Recently, she worked with her fellow members to compile a resource guide for survivors of sexual misconduct or assault on campus, which illustrates the steps of the investigation process and provides contacts for counseling services and channels for reporting an incident.
The other major tenet of Oligino’s platform is making herself as receptive to student concerns as possible. One way to get in touch with WCGA representatives is through the student concern form on their website, which she encourages students to use as a primary contact, though sending a direct message to the WCGA Instagram account is also an efficient way to voice concerns and offer feedback, she said.
Platforming student voices, it seems, is Oligino’s primary concern in most issues within Westhampton College. For instance, on the subject of combating gender-based violence on campus, she plans to meet regularly with UR’s Center for Awareness, Response and Education to allow them to express their needs and how WCGA can help their work, she said.
“When you’re a representative of student government, a lot of it is responding to concerns that come to you," Oligino said.
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Oligino said the housing errors at the beginning of the fall semester which resulted in transgender students receiving housing assignments that did not align with their gender identity is a concern she wants to continue to look at and identify what went wrong.
“That is something that I definitely do want to continue to look at and be like, ‘Okay, what went wrong? How can we fix it? How can we help you fix it and get student feedback?’” She said.
She added that this year’s WCGA Chair of Student Affairs, sophomore Amal Ali, has worked in conjunction with Richmond College representatives to increase the accessibility of gender-flexible housing.
In reference to the Richmond College president-elect, junior Derek Gilmore, and his specific campaign promises, which included expanding hours at Heilman Dining Hall and prolonging breaks for students prior to exam periods, Oligino expressed a more cautious, but still optimistic perspective on such dramatic changes.
“That's part of the thing with student government," she said. "You always want to hit those big benchmarks, but you also want to be conscious of who they're affecting and the different policies that can go through with it.”
For example, extending dining hall hours would significantly impact staff and require significant adjustments to their daily organization and scheduling, she said.
In reference to extending academic breaks, Oligino also supports the idea, and has discussed ways to work together toward implementation with Gilmore, though they both recognize that the plan is highly ambitious, she said.
“It’s hard to say what can be accomplished or not, but it never hurts to ask!” she said. “But you have to keep thinking about who [a policy] is going to affect, and, how can we make it better — not just for students, but also the workers involved, and the other people who these policies will affect in the future.”
Contact features editor Kelsey McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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