The snow has finally melted, classes are winding down and a new, very impressive team from the class of 2004 is now leading the Student Association. As the outgoing co-presidents, we would like to provide a sense of what was accomplished during our year in the Student Association. In doing this, we would like to emphasize that the SA’s accomplishments represent the hard work of many, many members of the student body who contributed in their roles as Social Chairs, Senators, Presidents, Ed-Reps, Tech Reps, Orientation Reps, etc.
We campaigned last year on the platform that the Student Association needed more transparency and accountability. Along these lines, there have been two major developments. First, we have placed nearly all of the information relevant to the SA on the SA website (//sa.hbs.edu), which, for all practical purposes, did not exist last year. This includes Senate meeting notes, Senator attendance, the SA Constitution and detailed descriptions of the inner workings of the SA. The Student Association still has a long way to go in terms of providing complete transparency to the student body, but we feel that making all of the relevant information accessible was an important first step.
As far as accountability is concerned, every Senator this year had responsibility for at least one “initiative.” These initiatives were the issues facing the student body that were voted the highest priority according to the SA Poll administered last spring. A detailed description of the initiatives and the Senators’ progress in achieving them are available on the SA website, but we would also like to highlight some of the more significant ones here.
According to the poll, the number one issue was to provide alumni classcards. Tara Hahn led this initiative and her proactive pursuit of this goal led to classcards becoming a priority for the Alumni Association.
This, in turn, led to alumni classcards becoming a realistic possibility for our Class Gift. Our gift, along with significant sponsorship from dedicated alumni, promises to make this very valuable technology a reality.
Another issue highlighted in the SA Poll was giving student more access to prominent faculty at HBS. The Administration is always looking to optimize the number of people who can take classes with the professors of their choice, but, with many classes doubly and triply oversubscribed, many of us may not have been able to have all the professors that we wanted. To alleviate this problem, the Student Association has launched a Thought Leadership Speaker Series. The purpose of this is to give the entire student body at least a taste of the research and teaching style of some of the most popular faculty. This year, we have had talks by professors Christiansen, Naryandas, and Frei. Based on the impressive attendance at these talks, it is clear that there is considerable demand for this series to be extended further.
The Senate as a whole was very active about pursuing its goals this year. Other initiatives that were accomplished included:
o Reallocating space from Shad Caf‚ to be used for equipment and changing Shad’s weekend ours. This initiative was led by Jordan Burton.
o Negotiating preferred rates with local area brokers. This initiative was led by Jay Nogueira with the help of the Senate Housing and New Construction Committee.
o Providing public printers in Spangler. This was led by Carol Ahn and the Tech Rep Committee.
o Creating a one-page overview of healthcare information including primary physician information, insurance coverage, and general overview of how to navigate the system. This initiative was led by Erin Russell and the Student Services Committee.
Outside of the major improvements that the SA attempted to make to our experience, there have been a huge number of issues that the SA has had to deal with on a day-to-day basis. There are too many to list here, but a good sense of them can be gained from browsing this year’s Senate meeting notes (available on the website). A few that stick out in our minds include helping clubs transition from QuickPay to PayPal and working with the Administration to help alleviate many of the problems associated with the negative employment outlook.
One group within the Student Association that deserves special recognition is the Social Chairs. Jo Navarro, Heidi Brooks, Tony Lewis, Pinar Fazlioglu, and Jonathan Lischke planned the events that have defined our social experience for the past year. It takes only a glance at the “Calendar of Events” on the SA Website to realize the tremendous job these five classmates have done.
It is amazing how fast the year goes and how many interests can pull in different directions. We hope, however, that, over the past year, the Student Association did serve its purpose as a platform for student views and a force for positive change.