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March 20, 2014

SGA hopes to hear student opinions

By Hannah Corcoran

The Student Government Association (SGA) at Cleveland State University began a new initiative called “interaction hours” in February. The initiative features a booth in the Student Center used to gain feedback from students and improve the SGA’s transparency, according to Allison Dumski, president of the SGA.

Interaction hours will include the booth--operated by SGA representatives in the Student Center Monday through Thursday from noon until 1 p.m.

Dumski said the feedback has been “great so far.”

“Students are learning about student government, and student government is learning about the students,” Dumski said.

SGA will sometimes look for feedback on specific issues through this initiative, but they are open to all feedback from students, according to Dumski.

“There have been some really good suggestions,” Dumski said.

James Guirguis, an SGA senator, finds the booth important in solving issues that students have with Cleveland State.

“I don’t believe we really get to hear the students’ voices when the SGA lounge door is closed,” Guirguis said. “We have a few portals for students to tell us what needs to be changed or fixed but it’s not as effective and some students don’t know how and where to access those portals.”

Student comments have covered a range of issues including parking, the credit hour conversion, UPass, the smoking ban, snow days and textbooks.

“They aren't just sitting in the jar either,” Dumski said. “We really do read them and share the information.”

Last week, Dumski attended a meeting about the UPass and brought a stack of comment cards to discuss.

“These comment cards and any feedback in any form really enable us to do our job and do it well,” Dumski said. “They assist our decision-making and help guide our actions.”

At the booth, students will see jars, note cards and pens to write their concerns.

“We don't even have to say anything to some people, they just come up and start writing,” Dumski said. “Others are wondering what we are doing so they stop and eventually leave a comment.”

Senior Julie Lopardo thinks the booth is a good idea because it gives students an opportunity to voice their opinions about what is going on at Cleveland State.

“Placing this booth in the Student Center is a great way for students to have a voice, especially with the changes taking place at the university,” Lopardo said.

Guirguis feels the best way to attract students is by smiling and looking approachable. He also thinks the location of the booth is beneficial in attracting students.

“To better help and serve the students, we decided that standing outside in the Student Center and actually listening to students’ input was more beneficial for SGA and the students,” Guirguis said.

According to Dumski, the booth has been in discussion for a while. SGA received the booth over winter break and began running it last month.

SGA is also working on taking the interaction hours set-up to the different colleges when it is not operating during normal hours in the Student Center.

“Departments are using us for feedback more than ever now, so it has been great to be able to take what we collect right to the people who can help,” Dumski said.