Changes to the Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA) are underway this year. After the student body voted to remove class representatives from the executive staff last spring, GSBA added three new, specialized positions. These include a marketing coordinator, community engagement coordinator and weekday events coordinator.
According to GSBA President Braden Bell, these changes have been met with better student engagement in GSBA events.
In previous years, class representatives were tasked with event programing, weekly emails and organizing some service activities. Now, these new positions each take on a focused skill set, in either communications, service or event-planning.
“[Class representatives’] events historically did not have amazing turnouts due to them being limited solely to a single class,” Bell said via email. “So, GSBA decided to replace these spots with three positions that do the exact same thing, but make the events open to all classes. GSBA has seen a lot better turnout and engagement.”
Sydney Rains is GSBA’s marketing coordinator, working in the communications committee.
“We used to have a class rep that would send out weekly emails to their class, and that would entail lots of different GSBA things,” Rains said. “But they found that those positions weren’t as effective as they wanted them to be…so they implemented my position as a way to kind of act as a more effective messenger.”
Rains is responsible for sending out weekly newsletters to the student body, managing requests for painting the Bulldog Wall and distributing physical advertisements from GSBA, such as the large posters that hang in Hemmingson Center.
The new weekly GSBA newsletter, pioneered by Rains, is more advanced than any communication GSBA has put out in the past, according Bell.
Along with Rains is GSBA’s new community engagement coordinator Emily Menshew.
Working with GSBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Team, Menshew connects GSBA with the Center for Community Engagement. According to Bell, Menshew is organizing a citywide food drive for the spring, as well as other clothing and supply drives before the winter hits in Spokane.
The new Weekday Events Coordinator position is held by Amanda Anderson, who is responsible for planning two weekday events each month as a part of the Campus Events team. Bell said Anderson has already organized events such as “Spikeball and Snow-Cones,” that have seen strong student turnout.
The removal of class officers does have its downsides according to Bell. The main challenge GSBA has faced is a lack of representation for first-year students. GSBA conducts its hiring and general elections in the spring prior to the arrival of the first-year class. This leaves just three freshman senator positions to be filled in the fall.
“That means only three out of our 54 positions would be first-years, which is not representative of the composition of our student body,” Bell said.
Bell worked with GSBA Vice President Charlotte Low this past summer to devise a plan for new positions for first-year students. They decided to revitalize Street Team, a branch of GSBA that has been inactive for the past several years.
Street Team positions are volunteer, as-needed roles. They assist executive staff and work on independent projects that had to be dropped by staff because of work load. The Senate recently approved 12 Street Team positions to be filled by first-year students.
“These positions will be a low time-commitment way for first-year students to gain experience in student government and Student Affairs by working side-by-side with senators and executive staff to complete projects and plan events,” Bell said.
This gives 12 first-year students the opportunity to gain experience in student government, which will allow GSBA to draw on more experienced students in the future.
Senate also approved a Street Team coordinator position. With GSBA, they will act as a liaison between Street Team and the executive staff.
“These new positions will provide much needed support in some areas of GSBA,” Bell said. “Right now, with things on-campus slightly going back to normal, our team has gotten a little overwhelmed. Twelve new, motivated students with a drive for bettering the Gonzaga student experience will make all the difference.”
The revitalization of Street Team is expected to make internal operations run more smoothly, according to Bell. And with the addition of the marketing coordinator, community engagement coordinator and weekday events coordinator already increasing student engagement, GSBA is seeing tangible outcomes from these changes.