Temple Student Government Speaker Ieshia Nelson wanted to do something special to acknowledge the success of Homecoming 2006 last month.
Two days after the Temple football team defeated Bowling Green and the hip-hop band The Roots performed at McGonigle Hall, Nelson asked every TSG member to rise to their feet during the Oct. 30 general assembly meeting. The senior, who said she “couldn’t carry a tune if you gave me a basket,” then led the general assembly in reciting the Temple fight song.
This display of school spirit was unique because it’s something that never would have happened during last year’s general assembly meetings. While the emphasis of general assembly remains on executive and committee reports and passing allocation bills, the culture of the weekly meetings has changed this semester.
Senior Matthew Jones, a representative of Broad Street Line, a seven-member acappella group, attended general assembly last year.
He said the meetings have been a lot looser and more relaxed this semester.
“This year, G.A. is a lot more open then it was last year,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with the administration. I feel that these guys are having fun, while last year it was more of a ‘let’s get down to business’ [attitude].”
TSG President Raysean Hogan said he wouldn’t use the term “loose” to describe general assembly this year, but he acknowledged that the mood in the weekly meetings is slightly different than last year’s.
“I guess the atmosphere is less tense,” Hogan said. “I hope that we are making people feel a little more comfortable. We don’t want people to stress out.”
Nelson said the fight song, in addition to other motivational ideas, serves the purpose of making representatives more comfortable.
“It’s just another way to get people energetic,” Nelson said. “It’s kind of a way for them to understand that we appreciate your time and that we all work hard and we understand that being a representative is hard too, because you have all of this pertinent information that you have to bring back to your organization.”
Jones said he enjoys general assembly more this semester than last year. He noted, however, that there is a good and bad side to the more “open” type of general assembly meetings.
“I feel like the bills went a lot quicker last year,” he said. Senior Yosef Kalish disagreed.
Kalish, a representative of Temple Students for Israel who has attended general assembly meetings for the last four years, said the allocations process has “been moving along fluidly.”
He said Nelson has done an acceptable job with moving the process along.
“She put up 45 allocations bills – which in the past four years would have taken at least a couple of weeks – in one day and we left 10 minutes early,” he said. “That’s fabulous.”
Junior Tom Gallowitz, a representative for Owls For Life, said the meetings have benefited from the circular venue of Kiva Auditorium in Ritter Hall. Last year, the meetings were held in a large square room in the Student Center annex.
“Last year we were in more of a lecture hall-type of room,” Gallowitz said. “This year the room is more suited for a government-type of setting.” Jones said, as a change, he would like to know more about the other representatives who attend general assembly. He said this was a problem last year also.
“I sit next to five or six people and I have no idea [what organization] they’re from,” he said.
Hogan said TSG will hold a “Presidents Forum” Nov. 28 to help facilitate networking opportunities between the presidents and vice-presidents of various student organizations. TSG will also attempt to hold informational sessions next semester, Hogan said. The sessions will not only help representatives learn TSG policies, Hogan said, but will also inform students about the bureaucratic breakdown of the university.
“There are a lot of students who don’t know what [the] dean of students does or what the provost does,” Hogan said. Kalish, who said he has seen many changes during his four years in TSG, said he prefers this type of general assembly to last year’s meetings, which he called “ineffective.”
“This is probably the best year that I’ve seen so far,” Kalish said. “They have put together a good team with good leadership.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at email@example.com.