New SG accountability position aims to offer transparency with student body
Schanelle Saldanha suggests improvements to SG
Student Government President Angela Chen created a new director of accountability position in her cabinet as part of an effort to increase transparency and clarity with the student body.
Schanelle Saldanha, a sophomore in the School of Communication, was appointed to the stipended role at the end of the spring 2019 semester. So far, she said, much of her time has been spent getting to know the executive board members and defining the limits and goals of her position.
Chen said that she hopes Saldanha will advance SG’s transparency with the student body by publishing notes taken during the executive board meetings, while Saldanha spoke about holding town halls with students to encourage direct communication with SG leaders.
“The main [duty], obviously, is to make sure that all the executive officers are following through and doing their job,” Saldanha said. “So it can be as simple as making sure that they're coming to meetings ... that they're prepared, that they're keeping on track with their policy initiatives.”
Saldanha said that over the summer she met with each of the four executive board members — president, vice president, secretary and comptroller — to clarify her position to them, build a relationship, and begin taking comprehensive notes on their goals, promises and responsibilities.
James Kwon, the secretary of SG, added that the director position also fulfilled Chen’s goal of having an unbiased fifth person to split the vote on any disagreements within the board. Previously, that responsibility was left to the president’s chief of staff, but Chen worried that they might favor her over the other members.
Kwon added that Saldanha has already helped solve issues within the executive board.
“Over the summer, my emails got really clogged with people saying ‘Hey, I can’t get into my email [account] ... and I didn’t respond to all of them on time,” Kwon said. “[Saldanha] actually emailed me saying, ‘Hey, I need you to get on that.”
Saldanha, along with Amanda Kaufmann, SG’s deputy director of operations, is also working on releasing a policy initiative tracker on the SG website. This addition would provide up-to-date information on various SG projects, along with their state of completion.
Looking back at the last few months of work, Saldanha is satisfied with the goals she’s accomplished.
“I'm really happy with where we are, and just the steps that we’ve … taken to make sure that there is somebody there always to make sure that our executive board members are doing their jobs,” Saldanha said. “[They’re] following through and ultimately doing what they were elected to do, which is to serve the student body at AU.”