This year the Student Government
Association has tackled a host of new initiatives.
By Phyllis Hanlon
You might not actually see it, but you can certainly feel
it. An underlying current of excitement, enthusiasm and passion
pervades the Holy Cross campus, thanks to the efforts of
the Student Government Association (SGA). Nicole Mortorano '04
and Kevin Gallagher '05, co-chairs of SGA - together
with a host of student-run committees in collaboration with
faculty and administrators - are working to provide a
growing number of services and programs that address diversity,
tolerance, academics, social life and safety.
The SGA co-chairs credit the organization's dedicated cabinet
members, as well as the newly created Senate, with a new
surge in activity. Whether sponsoring rallies against hate
crimes, running forums and informational sessions or even
opening one of the first student-run, on-campus video rental
stores in the country, the SGA has been invigorated of late.
And, in turn, the association has become an invigorating
presence on campus.
A newly formed sexual assault committee has sponsored programs,
forums, meetings and discussions in which nearly 400 students,
faculty members and administrators have participated. The
committee plans to launch a print publication by the end
of the semester highlighting the problems associated with
sexual assault. Based on a magazine produced and distributed
at Duke University, this publication will feature testimonials
from victims as well as essays and artwork from students
and faculty. In addition, the SGA has worked on updating
a College handbook on Catholic teachings about sexuality
and sexual decision-making and issuing a second handbook
that will serve as a resource for victims of sexual violence.
In the interest of student safety, SGA added Night Rider,
an off-campus escort shuttle, to its current transportation
service that delivers students to the airport, local shopping
malls and into Boston and Providence on weekends. Night Rider
ensures the safety of students off campus without return
transportation to the school and operates Friday and Saturday
nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. "This, hopefully, will
provide an outlet to allow a student to leave an uncomfortable
situation and come back to campus," Gallagher says.
Launched in February, the service is averaging about 40 calls
per night, according to Mortorano.
For those students who prefer to remain in the residence
halls, a campus-run video rental store offers a wide choice
of the latest movies. Last summer, four students from SGA
researched distributors and put together policies and contracts
in preparation for a fall opening. "We thought that
in the beginning it would be at its peak and then wouldn't
be the new thing. But it's been the opposite," says
Gallagher. As of March 1, the rental store reported close
to $5,000 in revenue and had rented almost 2,000 movies.
More than 1,000 students have accounts and business increases
steadily each week, he notes.
Community involvement has always been a cornerstone of the
Holy Cross education. In keeping with that philosophy, SGA
teamed with the school's administrators, the city of
Worcester and neighborhood civic associations to revitalize
nearby Cookson Park. SGA secured two grants for $2,000 and,
with matching funds from the city, conducted phase one of
a cleanup project. Gallagher has challenged the city to once
again match the College's fund-raising efforts to reach
a goal of $150,000 needed to complete phases two and three.
He anticipates completion of phase two - adding a parking
lot and lighting to the area - during the summer. In
phase three, students will construct the playground in the
fall. "We want to have positive relationships and give
back. The civic association has been struggling to find a
project, and now they are working hard with us on the park," says
Back on campus, SGA began a book exchange as an alternative
to the bookstore. SGA members coordinate the entire event,
and students set prices for their books, which often results
in better deals for both buyers and sellers. Gallagher anticipates
moving the program online soon, modeled after eBay. To help
low-income employees and students, some SGA members provide
free tax service prior to the April filing deadline.
SGA also sponsors an on-campus readership program that exposes
students to daily news from USA Today, The Boston Globe,
The Washington Post and The New
York Times. The free newspapers can be found at five
locations across the campus.
Much of the work that happens within SGA is invisible. Hours
of meetings and discussions ensure that students' needs
are met, and issues that affect the entire campus are addressed. "We
have sought to broaden our horizons and focus on issues that
are important to all students. We advocate for students," says
"There is so much potential and passion for improving
the whole Holy Cross student life culture," Mortorano
says. "When students realize what we are doing, they
also know we are a resource. They stop and ask for support
on various issues."
Phyllis Hanlon is a freelance writer from