Student Government Considers Town Hall Meeting

By Ashley Smith

In an attempt to find innovative ways to communicate with students and allow them to be heard, the Student Government Association of Youngstown State University is considering having town-hall-style meetings.

Jacob Schriner-Briggs, executive vice president of SGA, said the meetings would be informal events that help facilitate concerns students have.

“In general terms, a town hall meeting would be an informal event hosted by SGA in which students could attend, mingle with their representatives and raise concerns that they would like to see SGA address,” Schriner-Briggs said. “There’s no real specific formula. So long as effective communication is taking place, then the town hall meeting is likewise effective.”

SGA first experimented with these meetings during the Fall Leadership Summit last year.

“When we first got into office, [SGA President Michael] Slavens and I met over the summer to discuss our upcoming responsibilities. One of those responsibilities was to orchestrate events for the Fall Leadership Summit. We decided to hold two SGA town hall meetings. The premise of these meetings was to facilitate discussion between Michael and I and the students who attended,” Schriner-Briggs said.

The overarching goal of these meetings is to create a way for students to have their concerns brought from an informal meeting with a few representatives to the entire body.

Daisy Corso, president of YSU’s Student Arts Association, said she thought it would improve the relationship between SGA and student organizations.

“I think that would really help tie the knot between organizations and SGA on campus because it will give organizations something to look forward to. If they do have something that they would like to improve or something that is an issue for their organization that SGA would be able to help with, then they would know where to go,” Corso said. “If you had a scheduled time and a scheduled place that all of the student organization leaders knew about, they could talk to all of their groups individually at their separate meetings, and it would definitely help.”

Schriner-Briggs saw the meetings that took place during the leadership summit as a huge success.

“We thought the discussions that took place were incredibly fruitful. It is difficult setting a vision from within SGA if its members fail to reach out to the student body and gather feedback,” Schriner-Briggs said. “The Summit was the perfect launching pad to hear the concerns of involved students, and now we want to continue that initiative with similar events. Currently, this project will be under the purview of Sean Meditz, SGA’s vice president for university affairs, and his committee. Our intent is to help increase transparency and accessibility from within SGA and truly gauge the concerns of our constituents.”

Ashley Orr, vice president for financial affairs for SGA, also attended the meetings last fall.

“As a student leader, I left that meeting very motivated by the students’ ideas and their opinions. These meetings can hopefully engage students and make SGA more approachable,” Orr said.

This continues a trend of SGA increasing their openness to students.

“One change Slavens and I implemented, an idea formulated during our campaign, was to alter the setup of SGA’s meetings,” Schriner-Briggs said.  “Now we face the gallery — guests no longer have to stare at the backs of their representatives. … As an SGA outsider coming into office, I thought the traditional setup of the Ohio Room was strange and awkward for gallery members, so we changed it. … The change of setup isn’t tied to our town hall initiative, but it does align with a similar philosophy of openness with the students.”

Moving forward, SGA hopes to begin holding town hall events that allow students to voice their opinions and have a full-body discussion of these ideas.

“We are looking forward to implementing Town Hall events that allow students more accessibility to us and communication with us,” Schriner-Briggs said.

Additional reporting by Justin Wier.