For The Students, By The Students

New Student Government Structure Designed to Encourage Increased Participation


Brooke DiCicco

BCSA will host weekly office hours, in a public location like the KCC, and monthly town hall meetings open for all students to attend. These congregations are expected to begin next Spring in 2022.

Sienna Sullivan, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – On Aug. 27, the Coordinator of Student Engagement, Samantha Schlernitzauer, announced the initiation of the Bridgewater College Student Association, the restructured student government organization to replace the Student Senate on campus. 

“Student Senate, the way it was structured, was very focused on what senate wanted to see on campus,” said Schlernitzauer. “It didn’t leave a lot of space for other students with concerns they wanted to bring up.” 

The student senate comprised roughly 40 students who met bi-weekly to discuss issues they felt were most prevalent, and final decisions were made by a board of four executive officers.  

“I think the previous structure was a mechanism to give power to a very small group of people who generally were always well-intended, but it put the majority of students in a very passive role,” said Dean of Students Leslie Frere.  

Intended to combat student senate’s shortcomings, BCSA will have a chair, co-chair, five committee chairs and will be guided by five faculty advisors:  the Coordinator of Student Engagement & Leadership, Sam Schlernitzauer; the Associate Director of Athletic Media Relations, Lynn Walsh; the Assistant Dean of Students for Engagement, Whitney Smith; the Assistant Dean of Students for Residential and Community Living, Liz Howley and the Vice President of Student Life & Dean of Students, Leslie Frere. 

BCSA meetings will hold monthly town halls and weekly chair and co-chair office hours, both of which are open for all students to attend. 

“BCSA is the new student club-and-organization-controlled student government on campus,” said sophomore Katelin Carter, one of the students involved in BCSA’s creation. 

BCSA not only prioritizes the inclusion of more voices, but the organization was also created with increased collaboration and communication between student groups in mind. 

“BCSA will encourage a lot more communication between clubs and student government leadership,” said senior Lexi Werner, another student involved in the restructuralization. “With the five committees, now the chair and co-chair and even the committee chairs will have a better idea of what’s going on across the board on campus.”

Both faculty advisors and student representatives hope BC students will view and utilize BCSA as a global organization with the ability to empower every voice. BCSA “advocates for bigger systematic changes for the campus,” said Assistant Dean of Students for Engagement Whitney Smith.