Dartmouth Student Government announces new name with new goals, structure
In light of low student approval ratings of the organization’s prior iteration, Student Assembly, DSG plans to improve communication with students and pursue projects focused on mental health services and housing accessibility.
On Monday, Dartmouth Student Government — formerly known as Student Assembly — announced via email to the student body that it is changing its name as part of a larger rebranding plan. In addition to the name change, DSG changed its internal structure and updated its goals, which include providing improved access to teletherapy and establishing a liaison with the town of Hanover and Wi-Fi access on the Green, among others.
After beginning discussions at the end of the spring term, DSG met in the middle of June to vote on the changes, including its name, according to Student Government president David Millman ’23. He added that the DSG senators debated the changes and ultimately reached a unanimous vote of approval; the changes took effect at the start of fall term.
According to Millman, discussions surrounding the name change have been in the works “for a while.” Millman said that the organization did not like that the acronym for Student Assembly, SA, can also stand for “sexual assault.”
Millman added that SA proved to be an ambiguous name which left people wondering what the body’s role was on campus and contributed to “pretty low” approval ratings — favorability stood at 36% among the Class of 2022. He said this status prompted SA to consider a “rebrand” when Millman’s administration officially took over the organization at the start of summer in an effort to clarify its role on campus and better represent students.
“We are the elected official representative body of the undergraduate student population, so we represent students to [the] administration on issues like mental health, on dining, on housing [and] on really important things that affect you,” Millman said. “We’ve had real changes; it’s just that we’ve had a lack of communication about them, [and] we also haven’t had the structure in which we can actually affect real change.”
Apart from its name change, DSG plans to better communicate with the student body by utilizing social media and the undergraduates listserv to indicate important dates, deadlines and announcements, Millman said. This process will include hosting town halls and the creation of a website where students can articulate concerns.
“I think it’s good to have a fresh perspective on what Dartmouth Student Government can look like,” DSG deputy chief of staff Alex Lawson ’23 said. “I think these changes are something that we can institute and follow through on so that people know that we’re having an impact now, and we are changing the way we’re doing things.”
Although Millman said that DSG accomplished many projects in the past, such as creating a food pantry, placing free menstrual products in bathrooms, providing Dartmouth Coach vouchers and aiding in the creation of Layup List, he also believes that the group’s projects have not been effectively communicated to the student body.
According to Millman, other priorities for DSG in the coming year include getting universal teletherapy services for students in order to cut down on counselor wait times, reopening late-night dining on the weekends at the Class of 1953 Commons and Courtyard Cafe by winter term, having an official town liaison with the Hanover town government to work on housing access issues, obtaining free student access to Canva, reinstating Safety and Security safe rides, advocating for better housing and making Wi-Fi accessible on the Green by spring term.
DSG vice president Jess Chiriboga ’24 said that mental health is a “big priority” for her, so DSG is pushing to instate 24/7 teletherapy in order to “fill the gaps that currently exist within the College’s counseling system.” She added that DSG is also working towards increasing the number of sunlamps, which can alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression, available to students.
Millman said DSG manages a budget of over $60,000, with which the body “can do a lot of good with.”
DSG is also making internal changes pertaining to membership attendance in an effort to mitigate previous problems with low attendance, according to Millman.
“If you’re elected by your students, students expect you to represent them, so part of that is showing up to meetings and engaging with discussions and trying to make sure that we reach a quorum,” Millman said.
Missing more than three meetings without a “valid excuse” as a senator will indicate grounds for impeachment; the senator will be removed from DSG and a new student will be appointed in their place, according to Chiriboga.
Millman said that DSG also restructured internal positions and committees, such as instituting a communications director, constituent affairs director, chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and project directors.
“We’ve decided to make it more structuralized and embed more people into leadership positions, which I think is really awesome,” DSG chief of staff Kiara Ortiz ’24 said. “Everyone feels more passionate about what they’re working with.”
Correction appended (September 20, 2022, 5:20 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that DSG is working to obtain free student access to the Adobe Creative Suite and Canva. After this article’s publication, Millman clarified his prior comment that DSG is only working to obtain free Canva access, which is in addition to the free access to the Adobe Creative Suite that Dartmouth students already possess. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.