Butler Student Government Association undergoes evaluation from consulting firm Keeling & Associates

Butler Student Government Association is evaluated by a consulting firm. Collegian File Photo.

JOE KRISKO | STAFF REPORTER | jkrisko@butler.edu

Butler’s Student Government Association approved a new constitution in January of 2019, meeting the two-thirds vote required in the senate. Following the changes made with this new constitution, SGA is now being evaluated by Keeling & Associates, a Massachusetts-based consulting company, to examine their organizational structure and effectiveness. 

Sam Varie, a senior strategic communication major and SGA’s student body president, said the new constitution’s changes were the biggest ones that he was aware of in SGA’s history.

“This has completely revolutionized the way we operate as an organization,” Varie said.

The new constitution made three main changes to the structure of SGA. First, a new judicial branch was added for further separation of powers. The old judicial committee fell under the legislative branch. Additionally, the Student Initiatives Board was merged into the Senate. Senators are now part of committees which have taken over the responsibilities of the board. Lastly, the president and executive vice president of SGA now run on a joint ticket. 

Varie, along with Malin Peterson, senior youth and community development major and executive vice president, said the goal of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness and success of these changes for students.

“I think the ultimate goal is to ensure we have an organization that meets student need,” Varie said. “In order to understand that and in order to achieve that, we have to have systems in place that allow our student leaders to also be successful.”

The project was launched in October and is expected to be fully completed in February. Following some preliminary interviews over the phone and an overall review of SGA history, finances and by-laws, the consultants visited campus in mid-November. The visit included interviews with SGA members, advisors and the Office of Student Affairs.

Jenna Repkin, a junior middle secondary education and mathematics double major, is SGA’s director of marketing and communications. Repkin was glad the consultants were coming in to offer an outsider’s perspective on the structure changes.

“When you change how something has been working for years, it’s good to have somebody to look in and say ‘did that really work?’” Repkin said. “Because on the inside, or even as a student looking on the inside, you don’t know for sure.” 

Repkin said she met with the consultants in a group with all of the other directors in SGA. Members met with the consultants without their superiors so they would feel comfortable speaking freely and giving honest feedback.

“It was nice to have somebody to talk to who was completely removed,” Repkin said.

The language of the financial agreement for this evaluation does not allow for the disclosure of details about how much SGA is paying for the evaluation. However, Varie said it is being done in partnership with the Office of Student Affairs.

When the results are released next semester, Varie and Peterson expect to have a town hall-like event to share the results, which will be open to all students. 

“I definitely encourage students to come to that and be present for that conversation and voice their concerns,” Peterson said.

The findings of the evaluation are expected to be released in late January or early February.

The Butler Collegian will continue to follow this story as more updates become available.

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