ASPC and SAS Work to Increase Transparency for Students

Over the last few months, both the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) and the Scripps Associated Students (SAS) have been considering strategies to make their activities more transparent. However, members of both student governments report a general lack of interest from their constituents.

According to SAS President Marta Bean SC '14, the SAS, which acts as a bridge between the college's students, administration, and Board of Trustees, has tried new strategies this year to become more accessible to students.

Apart from holding SAS office hours, strategies to increase transparency include welcoming any Scripps College students to attend SAS Senate meetings and posting budget appropriations online. The SAS also plans to create a flowchart that will help students locate resources that the school offers. 

Despite efforts on the part of the SAS to increase information about its activities, Megan Petersen SC '15, a co-editor-in-chief of The Scripps Voice, said that if she were not responsible for helping to edit the SAS’ updates for the paper, she would know as little as any other Scripps student about the SAS.

“I think there are students who feel that SAS members are more closely aligned with and involved with the administration than they are with the student body,” Petersen said. “SAS needs to communicate that they’re trying to be transparent and communicate why students should care about what SAS is doing.”

Bean noted that the SAS has worked to increase transparency on the part of the administration. She brought up the Feb. 27 Be Heard forum, where the SAS hosted Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga to respond to student concerns about the administration's decision to restart the search for the LASPA Center for Leadership's director.

Tara Partow SC '17 said she that has probably been to more informational SAS meetings than the average first-year. She said that she has talked to older students, however, who are “just as confused as she is about how exactly SAS works.”

Bean said that it can be challenging for students to become involved with the SAS and attend meetings due to time constraints. 

“People have too much to do and it’s not in their top list of priorities knowing everything that SAS needs to do,” Bean said.

Meanwhile, the ASPC has also tried new strategies to increase transparency.

In addition to revamping its website and posting its budget online, the ASPC created the position of public relations director and selected Bianca Cockrell PO '17 to fill it. 

ASPC President Darrell Jones III PO '14 said that as public relations director, Cockrell posts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. She has also begun emailing newsletters to the student body with information about ASPC's activities. 

Jones added that these efforts have not just been helping keep students “in the loop,” but are also allowing students to demand more of the ASPC and become more involved with student government.

South Campus Representative Nico Kass PO '16 said that the ASPC newsletter is sent via an opt-in email, which means that students may not be aware of the email, and may choose whether to receive it or not. 

Still, Kass said that the newsletter will continue to develop.

“To me, transparency is an effort to show that we do try very hard to represent the student body and that we would like as much student participation as possible in our decision-making process,” he said. “A lot of it really is just trying to erase the disconnect between students and the student government, and to show that we care.”

Vice President for Finance Eric Martínez PO '14 said that information about the ASPC is accessible to students, but they are not always interested in engaging with student government. For example, he said, when he sent out an email regarding an increase in student fees, he received only 18 responses.

“In terms of being transparent, I think that ASPC does a good job in having information available, for example on the ASPC website, but I find it that many students are not interested in taking the time to learn more about the student government," Martínez said.