SGA to implement strategic plan

Duke Archive Photo
Eric Chatterjee, Duquesne SGA president, released his new strategic plan.

Josiah Martin | A&E Editor

09/20/2018

During Duquesne University’s Student Government Association meeting on Sept. 9, President Eric Chatterjee introduced his 2018 Strategic Plan. The presentation detailed the specific ideas and causes that Chatterjee wishes to see pursued by SGA over the course of the coming school year.

The plan, as presented via PowerPoint, is broken down into three distinct initiatives. The first of which, referred to as the “bedrock initiative,” is to “expand the role of the SGA senate.”

In the presentation, Chatterjee said that “the role of the Student Government Association is to represent the Duquesne student body,” but explains that this statement alone does not sufficiently detail the specific priorities of the organization.

Chatterjee explains that achieving the overall purpose of the organization “is challenging in the seemingly unrelated duties SGA representatives are called to uphold. This leads to confusion among representatives and ultimately the student body.”

Chatterjee then details his plan to address this blurring of goals within the SGA through four “imperatives,” a term used throughout the strategic plan to denote specific facets of the SGA’s intended actions. In brief, he plans to “lessen the learning curve for incoming representatives,” “make committee functioning more efficient,” “expand initiatives for SGA representatives to connect with the student body” and “expand the presence of SGA senators on university committees.”

In the second part of his plan, the “wellbeing initiative,” Chatterjee makes clear his goal to increase accessibility to mental health, addiction, sexual assault and food insecurity assistance on campus. This echoes promises made by Chatterjee on the campaign trail in February.

“Core to [the People’s Party’s] platform is expanding access to mental health treatment [and] sexual assault prevention and awareness,” Chatterjee said in a Duquesne Student Television video released on Feb. 8.

Now president, Chatterjee intends to not only found a wellbeing committee within the SGA, but also work with existing campus organizations and offices on issues such as addiction and food insecurity. Chatterjee also seeks to “strengthen community partnerships with organizations such as Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR).”

The wellbeing initiative also includes a plan to make sure students are informed of and given an opportunity to participate in the “notice and comment” process regarding federal Title IX policy. This process gives individuals a chance to weigh in on proposed changes to nationwide Title IX regulations.

The strategic plan’s third initiative revolves around “auxiliary services,” namely transportation and food service concerns, which Chatterjee admits are common complaints to the SGA.

“Students often have to pay out of pocket for transportation that is necessitated by their academic programs. Healthy food options are limited on campus, as well as options for students who keep kosher,” Chatterjee writes.

To improve these situations, the plan lists imperatives such as having the SGA’s food service ad-hoc committee work in conjunction with the wellbeing committee to explore healthy dining options, continuing SGA’s communication with Pittsburgh transportation group, which oversees the loop bus and using student feedback to prepare a formal proposal on transportation to university officials.

One of the SGA’s major goals discussed at length on the Sept. 9 meeting was the creation of the Curriculum Review Task Force, led by Vice President of Academic Affairs Alexander Christensen. As part of the strategic plan’s “curriculum initiative,” the task force will “be in charge of gathering student testimonies and conducting surveys on both university core and school-specific curriculum.” These findings will then be presented to the university.

As part of the overall initiative’s goal to ensure a student body role in curriculum reform under new provost David Dausey, the SGA also intends to maintain relationships with school deans and “advocate for a more fair grade-challenge process.”

Chatterjee’s final initiative is his school spirit initiative, in which he aims to foster student unity and community involvement among Duquesne’s campus population.

“It is not that students lack school spirit — it is that our students express school spirit in an unconventional way,” writes Chatterjee. “A Duquesne student might express school spirit by volunteering or going on a mission trip, thereby showing Duquesne pride by living out the university mission.”

Chatterjee hopes for the SGA to reach large groups of students via the offices of “Veteran Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion, Greek Life, Athletics and Disability Services.” He also aims to make the rest of the city of Pittsburgh more easily accessible to Duquesne students for service opportunities.

Chatterjee closes the strategic plan by articulating his desire for the SGA to “collaborate with members of the Duquesne student press, especially the Duquesne Duke, to strengthen a sense of identity among Duquesne students.”

Using the Third Alternative, a ‘70s initiative by Duquesne students to raise funds that saved Duquesne University from the brink of closure, as an example, Chatterjee illustrates the importance of the students’ role in the university’s operations.

Chatterjee closes, “In light of our institution’s rapid ascension, this strategic plan has articulated one of the most ambitious visions in SGA history.”

SGA meetings are held on Sundays at 7 p.m. in lecture hall 203 of the law building.

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