Temple Student Government now requires student organization representatives to attend at least one town hall meeting per month in order to receive allocations.
Town hall meetings, which are an alternative to last academic year’s weekly General Assembly meetings, will now occur every two weeks. The first town hall meeting of the semester on Monday focused on diversity.
Future town halls will cover a variety of topics, including campus safety, student affairs and student health and wellbeing.
The conversations between student organizations and TSG members during past town halls have helped TSG leaders better understand the student body, TSG Chief of Staff Marissa Martini said.
“Having more people in attendance and having people from all across campus in attendance will be very beneficial to us,” she said. “We need to know what we can do better for the student body and for the student body to know what we are already doing for them and what we plan to do.”
TSG hosted three non-mandatory town halls in Fall 2018, but attendance was low. TSG sent out an email on Jan. 20 notifying students that town halls will be mandatory, after students, including The Temple News Editorial Board, raised concerns with the lack of student participation.
On Monday, about 50 student organization representatives attended the first town hall of Spring 2019.
Marvin Manalo, TSG’s deputy director of campus life and diversity, led Monday’s town hall meeting and discussed where the university lacks cultural diversity. TSG also announced it is accepting applications for a mentorship program, which would pair domestic and international students and students in the same major. The program was attempted in Fall 2018, but it did not get enough applications.
“It was a good start to having a conversation about diversity,” said Katie Axinn, a representative for Alpha Delta Mu, a social work honor society. “But I kind of feel like there should have been more actual conversation, like more back and forth, whereas like I felt they were just kind of taking suggestions.”
Parker Strong, the allocations chair for the Professional Sales Organization, said the mandatory town halls will get him more involved with TSG.
“In a way, it kinda stinks just cause it kinda adds to the workload, and it’s another requirement,” he said. “At the same time, I think it holds me accountable and forces me to know what’s going on.”
Temple Debate Society communications chair Gillian McGuire said she prefers having solely email newsletters.
“I’ve often gone to the mandatory meetings, and it often doesn’t even apply to organizations at all,” she said. “Sometimes at the meeting, TSG talks about other things that they’re doing, which is great, but if it’s not going to pertain to organization news, I’d rather not go.”
Last semester, information was sent to student organizations in the form of weekly newsletters, which replaced mandatory weekly GAs.
Students asked for more interaction with TSG after the newsletter GAs were put in place, Martini said.
“This gives us more face time with students,” she said. “We just wanted to respond to that and respond to what the student body wants and so that we can interact more personally with them and field any questions that they might have and also engage on certain topics that we might not be able to touch on in the newsletter.”