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Does CCSG Actually Make a Difference to Anyone?

As our first Council Weekend drew to a close, representatives from most of the Commonwealth Campuses walked away with important information, as well leaving the Central Staff with things to improve upon and tasks to complete. In varying breakouts, campuses discussed problems they are having and the Central Staff gave them resources to work out solutions. They also had the opportunity to meet student leaders from other campuses so they can use each other as resources and compare common practices. Each breakout focused on different topics, including Governmental Affairs (who doesn’t love a tuition increase?), Academic Affairs, Student Services, Career Services, and Health Services.

Campuses spoke about various topics pertinent to them, as in the Commonality breakouts. Some campuses have trouble with their Health Services because they don’t all have someone on call in case of an emergency. After some discussion, Central Staff brought in speakers from Health Services to answer the students’ questions, as well as listen to their concerns and find a way to solve them. After Health Services, concerns were expressed about IT issues at campuses, and Central Staff plans to bring in an IT representative next Council to help the campuses fix their IT problems. Campuses also expressed their concerns about smokers near campus buildings, student centers, and residence halls. A general consensus developed among the campus representatives to speak with Police Services and then put in place legislation recommending a changes in university policies which would allow students to smoke in designated areas only.

Career Services was also discussed, and it appears that most campuses have an effective department. However, nothing is perfect, and problems many campuses had related to their Career Services advisor(s) not making themselves available (though this was not a common issue, where it is an issue, it is a major one). As a result, Central Staff will try to help students at campuses reach out to their Career Services advisor(s) so they are more available to them.

The Geography Caucus Breakouts discussed various topics depending on the campuses that were in attendance. One of the topics discussed were problems with Housing and Food Services, and lack of not only housing but also issues with dining facilities. Some issues concerned were Food Service’s rule that any catering or events with food must go through them. The campuses are in discussion with their Food Services Directors to change these policies as well as improve Food Services to better accommodate students.

Committee breakouts help campuses immensely since they cannot be up at University Park often to get information and meet with administrators and student leaders who oversee the entire university. Of these, THON continually helps campuses reach their goals. During this first Council Weekend, THON had a THON Chair Workshop, where the Overall Committee and campus’ liaisons came and spoke to them about rules, fundraising, canning, and any other topics that were in need of discussion. Raising money is often more difficult for campuses due to their distance from University Park, but THON helps them in any way they can to make sure their THON season is as successful as University Park organizations. Student Life touched on transitioning from a campus to University Park, as well as a mentoring program that has been put in place to help make this as easy as possible. The idea of this University wide student to student mentorship program was introduced and very well received by all who attended the breakout. “If the formal endorsement is passed at next Council we hope to see the beginnings of the program come to fruition by year’s end and fully completed soon after, improving the welfare of years of transition students to come,” said Justin Cortes, Student Life Director. Student Affairs discussed funding from campuses to hold events or for anything else they may need money for.

Campuses struggle with getting the funding they need if it isn’t allowed to be used from the SAF (Student Activities Fee) Fund. Academic Affairs worked on legislation for the Commonwealth Campuses, which would give students a warning if their GPA is dropping to a dangerous level and may cause them to be kicked out of their major, as opposed to alerting them after they have already been dropped from their major. This legislation was tabled by the Council until the next Council Weekend, so they can discuss it with their respective campuses. “There are a lot of smaller projects in the works this year, but all of them will have significant benefit to the students of Penn State,” said Mj Worsham, Academic Affairs Director.

Our first Council Weekend finished successfully, as we helped the campuses fix their problems, identify other problems that are the highest priority for immediate work and discussion at the next Weekend, as well as having given them further resources to do so in the future. If it were not for CCSG, who knows who would advocate for the betterment of the Commonwealth Campuses.
Our next Council Weekend is November 12-13, and as last time we encourage all to attend. Who knows, maybe we can even help a University Park student with a problem they don’t know how to fix.

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