Last April, Mercyhurst Student Government proposed an integration of RSCO (Recognized Student Clubs and Organizations) into the Senate, giving them more representation in decision-making and in communication with students.
The proposal initially failed, causing push-back from both sides over the issue.
This year, a similar proposal, spearheaded by MSG President Vince Marrazzo, focused on providing RSCO members with seats on Senate. The revised proposal was presented to MSG and passed with overwhelming support.
“We want to holistically transform our ability to do outreach to clubs since there are so many students involved in clubs on campus,” Marrazzo said. “This integration will make that easier, better, more efficient for MSG to serve the interest of the student body.”
The original proposal on April 9 contained several different changes to the constitution as well as the integration of the RSCO Council of Representatives (RCR). This year, the proposal focused only on the question of RCR in Senate, allowing for Senate to vote separately on the other constitutional changes.
“The proposal ultimately failed last year because we had a lot of constitutional changes and we voted on them in one big batch. Some students didn’t like one thing, so they didn’t pass the whole thing,” Marrazzo said. “That is the main reason it didn’t pass, in my opinion.”
Marrazzo sees great value in having student clubs and organizations formally integrated into the Senate because of the large majority of students that are involved in clubs and organizations on campus.
“In years past, MSG struggled in terms of outreach and getting students interested in giving us their feedback and ideas and concerns,” Marrazzo said. “Since the creation of the RSCO Council of Reps, we have seen drastic increase in level of involvement in terms of involvement in clubs coming to student government.”
According to a recent poll done by MSG, more than 75 percent of the student body is involved in at least one club on campus, making them an integral part of student life.
Representatives from clubs could come to MSG with ideas and concerns on an individual level, but there was no formal way for someone to come on behalf of their RSCO to bring up issues to the Senate.
“This will allow more opportunity for clubs to have a voice in what the student government is doing as well as help us allocate our time and resources based on their needs and interests,” Marrazzo said.
Emma Kindschuh, senior hospitality management major and MSG representative for the Walker College of Business, was one of the original members of RCR in 2017 and is still a presiding member on the council. She feels that the collaboration between the two groups will allow for more mutual support “administratively and financially.”
“With the two governing bodies joining, it creates a stronger bond and flow of command as to who students can go to, making communication and action easier,” Kindschuh said.
Some initial concerns about this proposal were that with the new seats being filled by RSCO Representatives, MSG Senators’ seats would decrease from 3 to 2 per class and college.
“Having three representatives per constituency is more of a new concept for MSG and it has not hurt or drastically improved going up to three per constituency in the past few years,” Marrazzo said. “We will have eight new students who represent those clubs, so if anything it is going to diversify the Senate.”
The elections of RCR will remain the same as they will be elected by standing members of RSCOs. Each college and class senator can only be elected by members of the college or class, so this means that election of RCR members in the Senate falls in line with current MSG procedures.
“Those on the RCR have just as many stipulations to become elected representatives as those in MSG, if not more since they must be both in a club and on the executive board of their club in order to run for RCR, so their position is extremely valid and will be nothing but helpful to MSG in connecting with the student population,” Kindschuh said.
Oscar Collazo, senior political science major and member of the RCR, has been a supporter of the integration since last year’s proposal. He was pleased with the revisions of the proposal and that it passed in the Senate this year. His only regret is that, as a graduating senior, he will not be able to see the changes in action in coming years.
“I think RCR as a part of MSG is important as a tool to reach out to students to say that we care about you and we are working to help you. I hope it will create a better dynamic between everyone on campus,” Collazo said. “I hope that it will increase communication between the student body and MSG and then eventually everyone on campus will know their senators and representatives, start going to more meetings and be more involved.”
Marrazzo and many other members of MSG and RCR are optimistic in moving forward with this change to the Senate.
“My hope is that we start hearing from clubs and what their issues and concerns are and what ideas they have not only for themselves but for MSG to help facilitate. RSCOs will now have a direct link to Senate and executive board will encourage clubs to speak up more.”