Joyce LaLonde reflects on term as SA vice president, 60th legislative session
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As the Student Association’s current legislative session comes to a close, Vice President Joyce LaLonde said she wishes she could have done more.
“It’s just the type of person I am,” she said. “I wish that all my policy recommendations could have taken place. I wish that I could’ve had every single student … and every single assembly representative and every single committee chair’s ideas come to fruition.”
When LaLonde, a senior policy studies and public relations dual major, was elected vice president last April, she entered SA with no previous experience in the student organization. But her lack of previous SA experience has not stopped her from introducing multiple initiatives that will continue in future legislative sessions.
In an interview with The Daily Orange, LaLonde reflected on her term as SA vice president and those initiatives, which included Mental Health Awareness Week and the Cycle Share program. SA President Eric Evangelista declined an in-person interview for this story.
Mental Health Awareness Week and the Cycle Share program, two initiatives that LaLonde helped lead, recently became “permanent initiatives,” meaning they are required to continue in the next legislative session.
During her vice presidential campaign, LaLonde spoke about the importance of mental health events and accessibility. Just weeks after being sworn in as vice president, LaLonde helped introduce Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place in October.
“The one thing I’ve really advocated for, which I think would impact everything else, is to have mental health at the forefront of every decision made on this campus,” LaLonde said.
In February, SA’s Mental Health Action Committee released the findings of its investigation into the state of mental health at Syracuse University. The investigation found that SU students have fewer counselors available for help than students at peer institutions and that “a lack of a sense of belonging” was the main reason students wanted to leave SU.
LaLonde said she has been showing the mental health report to SU administrators. M. Dolan Evanovich, SU’s senior vice president for enrollment and student experience, told this year’s SA presidential candidates that mental health was one of his top priorities, she said.
James Franco, president-elect of SA’s next legislative session, said LaLonde helped highlight the importance of mental health initiatives.
“Everybody knew that it was an issue on campus, but nobody had really done anything,” Franco said.
In September, LaLonde helped introduce the bike share program, where students can check out a bicycle from the Schine Student Center for a day. The program was relaunched in April as the “Cycle Share” program, and two adaptive cycles were added for students with disabilities.
When creating initiatives, LaLonde said assembly and cabinet members were always thinking of students who may not have been represented in the past. Because of this, many of the bills and initiatives passed in the 60th legislative session have promoted inclusivity among students on campus.
In October, SA began to offer free menstrual hygiene products in men’s and women’s bathrooms in five buildings on campus. The “sanctuary campus” bill, which was passed by the assembly in January, called on university administrators to declare SU a sanctuary campus and adopt policies that protect undocumented immigrants from deportations and federal anti-immigration laws.
Additionally, the student organization in April approved the creation of the Diversity Affairs and Inclusion Committee, which will promote inclusion and advocate for underrepresented groups on the SU campus in the next legislative session.
But SA has not been without controversy this legislative session.
In the past academic year, the assembly failed to meet quorum at multiple mandatory assembly meetings. After a lengthy Judicial Review Board investigation, Evangelista in February was found guilty of violating multiple SA bylaws. Evangelista again violated the bylaws and constitution in March when he submitted SA’s budget to the Finance Board without approval from the cabinet and assembly.
LaLonde said the multiple SA scandals this semester probably left the student body feeling “confused” about SA.
“(Students) don’t know what to think, which is understandable,” LaLonde said, adding she hoped students view SA members as helpers.
Despite the challenges of the position, LaLonde said she enjoyed working in SA. Because of her experiences in the organization, she said she plans to pursue a career in higher education consulting.
LaLonde said she’ll remember the teamwork she saw in the cabinet and assembly and urges SA to continue working on behalf of the students.
“We’re given such a privilege to be at this institution and to be at a place that really values student input and student programming,” LaLonde said. “I’d just say keep it going.”
Published on April 30, 2017 at 8:01 pm
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