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October 10, 2013

SGA represents CSU students as advocates to administration

By Alberto Paneccasio

Jon Fedor sat down with the Cleveland Stater, on October 3, to discuss the Student Government Associations’ plans for 2013-2014. Jon Fedor is the president of SGA. Following is an edited from an extended conversation. [Watch interview]

There are substantial changes that are in the works at SGA. However Fedor emphasized that everything SGA does is filtered through its three core mission- advocate on behalf of students, be a trusted source for information and provide opportunity for involvement here on campus and even off of campus too.

One of the main reforms brought in by SGA is the way student organizations request funds from SGA and Viking Expeditions.

“So we heavily streamlined that process creating a new form working in cooperation with the Viking expedition organization that does service and philanthropy funding, while SGA funds all other types of needs of student organizations,” Fedor said.

SGA has combined the two forms that student organizations to get funding from SGA and Viking Expeditions. As the hearings of the two funding organizations held on opposite weekends, this new process will speed up the funding mechanism. Fedor credited Jake Wehner, treasurer of SGA, for the idea.

Vice President Allie Dumski has been leading a project over the past summer called the Viking Tradition Book. SGA is partnering with the Student Alumni Association and university marketing to get that publication printed. The book of traditions is an interactive scrapbook for students to collect memories and tickets to events during their days at CSU.

“When you put in tickets that prove you put effort in games or photos of you doing certain things around campus and participating more in traditions and lets you wear a cord for graduation to say that you completed it and you’re a true Viking,” Fedor said. “So that is the cool thing going on right now and will be printed and released at homecoming.” Jon Fedor SGA president

Homecoming is not going to be like last year but this year we are doing a football game that where freshman vs. sophomore and juniors vs. seniors and the winners of those games will play against each other for like a Viking Title which will be played at Krenzler field, added Fedor. SGA is working on the details.

One of the highlights of homecoming this year is Childish Gambino concert. Gambino will be preceded by a performance of a student band that will be chosen after a battle of the bands competition.

“There are many great things that we are involved with doing this year that I am excited about and the rest of CSU should be as well,” Fedor said. “I think it’s a step forward.”

He also recognized a great foundation laid by previous SGA, which has helped the organization in his leadership to hit the ground running.

Before the new student cabinet came into office the previous cabinet was embroiled in controversies surrounding curriculum issues, especially four to three conversions and 120 credit hour cap, as a means to further students success at Cleveland State University.

“First thing I have to say is that I don’t think there were any problems that were brought up to us last year that wasn’t dealt with overall I think that the leadership definitely did what they thought was fit and overall benefited CSU students here are some substantial differences this year because at least very least the conversion actually happening now I mean real time changes are being made going into effect fall of 2014 and so we have a more tangible opportunity to really be advocates,” Fedor responded.

SGA has been working very closely with the new provost for the university and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Deirdre Mageean.

“She was in place beginning of the summer and we are working with her to make sure the 4-3 credit conversion is the number one issue being taken so that we don’t fall behind academically so that students are not hurt in the whole process,” Fedor said. “The role of SGA is to ensure that students are not harmed in the entire process taking place and so we worked with the provost, the undergrad graduate university curriculum committee, and the faculty senate.”

Fedor acknowledged the heavy lifting being done by the undergraduate curriculum committee under Bill Kosteas.

“Its been interesting to do and play the role of advocate representing students perspective and students needs to the administration,” Fedor said. “I would say if they are ever any problems students need to come to talk to us because we have trusted relationships that we established from people who can make changes and who can deal with any individual problems that any student might have to relate to the 4-3 credit conversion or relates to the 120 credit hour cap or the catalog rights which is guaranteed when you had entered in a program within a college at Cleveland State University.”

He acknowledged people are going have problems with the changes that are happening, but SGA has to fill the shoes of our roles of being advocates for students when they have a problem.

He than went on to say, there are some substantial differences this year because at least very least the conversion actually happening now I mean real time changes are being made and are going into effect the fall of 2014.

“So we have a more tangible opportunity to really be advocate,” Fedor said. “This means people are going have problems with the changes that are happening. We can go ahead and continue to fill the shoes of our roles of being advocates for students when they have a problem.”

Here at Cleveland State University the students Life Organization is going through a transformation and reorganization especially since there is a interim dean for this organization. This is something on the minds of students- how the restructuring of this affects the functioning of SGA and how they fund all the different student clubs and activities at CSU.

“Last year, when there was the first initial organization of the department there were really was not a known or solid plan in place at all to manage the transition and so because of that there were just –massive amounts of chaos that took place students leaders and people that were dealing with money had no idea where to turn because everyone was super busy because there were not any additional staff put into place to handle the workload that was built on the shoulders of the three people that were let go in the department of student life, it was a big mess, said Fedor.

He also told me in the interview that it was tough to see that they let go of the primary staff members in student life. However after Dr. Jim Drnek, the dean of students, left Cleveland State University the things were not that bad because their were additional staff hired and trained last year to help fill out student life.

However, Dr. Willie Banks will be taking over the reins of interim dean of students, while the provost works with an outside hiring agency to bring in a new interim dean of students and later a regular search for a permanent dean.

Jon Fedor is not only dealing with a few new people in the administration with whom he wants to create and maintain a great relationship with them.

“The relationship is going really good, like I mentioned last year, while that national search was taken place SGA, our president at the time Mo Al Bitar, he was a member of the university search committee that eventually recommended that the board of trustees and the president to hire Dr. Deirdre Mageean as the new provost,” Fedor said.

Mageean has worked on opening dialogue from the beginning which is very important and she loves students which is important because all the deans report to her, added Fedor.

Finally this is what Jon Fedor wanted to convey through The Stater to the student body and the university community.

“Basically I myself and our organization here—in SGA we are very passionate about making sure that students here at Cleveland State University can own their space in the university and own their experience here at CSU,” Fedor said. “If you think about it ownership, owning anything creates a sense of responsibility, if you own an object you take care of that object and you have a relationship with someone and you take over that ownership and take responsibility.”

Fedor feels that the university helps students to launch them into the next part of their career or the next part of their life – there is an immense opportunity here at Cleveland State to gain both soft skills and hard skills, to have experience and to make connections.

“My encouragement to students would be get involved and take ownership wherever you are, in classes in the professional side of things, look for student org to join, because the goal of us at SGA and I think of most – the commuters on campus is to make sure you are prepared that we are prepared for the next stage of our life, Fedor said. “It is so easy to walk in and out of these buildings at Cleveland State being a commuter student or resident and never truly engage with the university.”

In the end Fedor said that SGA is also looking at doing more tradition-based things such as funding commissioning and building a statue installation of a bronze Viking statue that well the location is to be discussed.