December 9, 2016

University aims to increase Delegates’ Agenda participation, global community issues

This semester’s Delegates’ Agenda will feature changes aimed to clean up the process by which topics are decided and boost student participation.

Dean of Students Ted Hoef said reorganizing and rethinking how topics are selected for the semesterly gathering will make the agenda less open ended and difficult by simplifying the process in which topics are picked. 

“We’re calling this initial session a caucus,” Hoef said. “It’s a chance for student organizations and student leaders to suggest what might be the ten [topics] to be considered to the students at large. Then that way we can also do a paragraph so when people are voting they know better what they are voting for.”

The Delegate’s Agenda is a program created by the university to provide students a platform in which they can let Webster know what they need to work on. The new four step process starts with a setting of issues, then a poll, then a presentation and, finally, an response from the administration.

The new process will have the brainstorming process take place at a meeting Sept. 1, where student leadership from across campus will decide on 10 issues to present to students. Five out of the 10 topics will be voted on by students through an online poll Sept. 14. This essentially flips the two steps in the process and gives students a better understanding of what they are voting on.

“One of the things we found with the survey is that it was difficult in a way – it was pretty open ended,” Hoef said. “If when you’re filling out a survey you don’t understand what you’re selecting, the polling results can be skewed.”

Hoef said the university plans to merge the voting of Delegates’ Agenda topics into the same time frame as Student Government Association’s (SGA) elections as well. He said merging two separate polls into one would make it easier for students to be involved in the process.

The university also plans on encouraging more global thinking at the Spring Delegates’ Agenda, as a result of last semester’s Global Leadership Summit.

SGA president Caroline Wiley said Webster University president Elizabeth Stroble wanted the home campus to focus on some global issues at the Delegate’s Agenda after attending the summit.

“After the summit, Dr. Stroble wanted to use the Delegate’s Agenda for more things like that,” Wiley said. “We’re going to try to be a little more global in our ideas. While also remembering that the Delegate’s Agenda, because it’s semesterly, has to have some focus on the home campus.”

Hoef said the global summit held last semester was a good foundation to build on, but more needs to be done to include Webster’s international campuses in the discussion. He said that, due to time constraints, the global initiative will be held till next semester.

Hoef said the Administration’s Response will also focus on looking back at past issues in an effort to follow up on ongoing responses to past topics.

“Not every topic is conveniently wrapped up in a semester,” Hoef said. “Students want to know what is going on with topics from past semesters.”

Wiley said this gives SGA’s Delegate’s Agenda council more to do throughout the year. She added it will be a good way to hold the university accountable for past issues and change throughout the campus.

“Focusing more on past Delegate’s Agendas will give them [the council] the opportunity to do constant research and stay updated with the administration and the members they chose to give those topic responses,” Wiley said.

Hoef believes the Delegate’s Agenda needs to change as it grows. He said as the program grows the university must keep thinking about ways to improve it.

“Delegates’ Agenda has evolved over the years and we keep learning about ways to improve it,” Hoef said. “The goal is to get more participation in it.”

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