Photo of Annie Philbin (pictured left) and Natalie Coppolino (pictured right).
News Staff Writer
Spring elections are at a close and the Dayton Student Government Association (SGA) has sworn in a new president and vice president for the 2020-21 school year.
Natalie Coppolino, SGA president and junior economics major, has big plans for the next year with her partner in office Annie Philbin, SGA vice president and junior international business management major.
Coppolino first joined SGA as a freshman after joining the campus unity committee, where she met Philbin in their sophomore year.
After watching last year’s election, the two realized they had “really good ideas” for SGA that they wanted to see put into action, and got the idea to run for office.
“I think coming from Campus Unity, it gives us a really neat perspective compared to candidates in the past,” Coppolino said.
Coppolino and Philbin’s campaign was driven by three main tiers: well-being, safety, and sustainability.
Their focus on well-being includes wanting to increase the accessibility of mental health resources on campus, an issue UD has tried to address in the past.
Coppolino also said that well-being means proposing ideas to reform the PATH point system that UD uses for housing assignments.
While PATH points have been earned mainly through attending events or presentations, Coppolino and Philbin have considered a system that would be half PATH points and half involvement on campus, such as rewarding points for clubs or on-campus jobs.
Improving campus safety is another goal of Coppolino and Philbin, such as preventing sexual assault in the student neighborhood.
The two said they have already scheduled a meeting in the fall with Melinda Warthman, Clery compliance and records administrator at UD, to help get Campus Safety on board with their ideas.
Coppolino also said she wants to mend relationships between students and the campus police. She hopes that hosting events and exposing campus police to the students will build a better relationship so when police do intervene in the student neighborhood, students know “it’s coming from a place of trying to keep them safe.”
“The more students interact with (the police) in a positive way before they need to interact with them in a more serious setting, the better it will be for campus safety,” Coppolino said.
Lastly, Coppolino and Philbin hope to improve sustainability efforts on campus in the next year.
One step is to reduce the amount of food produced for banquets and other events in the dining halls. Left-overs from these events are not permitted to leave the dining hall even in to-go containers, and any excess food ends up being thrown away, so reducing the food that’s first produced will lead to less waste at the end, Coppolino said.
Another way to improve sustainability practices already on campus is by promoting and incentivizing the Energy GPA system for student houses.
Houses can earn points toward this program through measures like shutting off unused lights or taking shorter showers, but Coppolino would like to see students take the program more seriously.
“It’s kind of a small thing, but that’s how everything with sustainability works,” Coppolino said. “You have to start small in order to make an impact. Then it becomes a domino effect.”
To start the 2020-21 school year, Coppolino and Philbin want to get the rest of their SGA team squared away before tackling any goals.
The organization will hold elections for student senators in the fall, as well as have sign-ups at Up the Orgs for different committees.
Coppolino sent an email out earlier this week to the student body encouraging sign-ups for SGA positions that are available.
Both Coppolino and Philbin believe that the more students are involved, the better.
Starting from a committee themselves, the two hope to make better use out of SGA committees so that the student body is well-represented.
“That’s one of the main things Annie and I want is inclusivity and diversity,” Coppolino said. “It’s something that a lot of students are worried about on campus and it’s something we think we can obtain by having more voices at the table.”
“I would say that’s our biggest goal for the year,” Philbin continued. “To use those committees more and make them more prominent on campus. It’s really important to get a more diverse group.”