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SGA, administration reforms lawn policy

Belmont student government representatives have been working closely with administration to reform the lawn policy that many students spoke out against when first implemented.

Following the publication of the newest edition of the Bruin Guide in January, students were upset certain activities would be illegal on the lawns and tried to change the policy through social media and their SGA representatives.

The issue arose when the ambiguous language of the lawn policy in the Bruin Guide meant that blankets, playing ultimate Frisbee or Spikeball could all be illegal on campus grounds.

This was all in the name of keeping the green space “aesthetically pleasing,” according to the Bruin Guide.

Sophomore SGA Representatives Jeanette Morelan and Skyler Schmanski, now president and vice-president of SGA, have been working with administration to funnel student outrage into measurable change. They met with Paula Gill, the vice-president of institutional effectiveness, to clarify the policy.

“She told us that we are the ones who are rewriting this policy, and that they will give us the yes or no,” Morelan said.

Many of the edits made were clarifications on the current policy, like reexamine the definition of organized team sports, said Morelan.

Once the changes are in place, student organizations like Quidditch, intramurals and Belmont athletic teams like soccer cannot have practice on the lawn and must work with the administration to find alternative areas of practice.

Under the previous policy, there was controversy over what was defined as a “tarp”, with many students raising concerns that blankets would now be banned from the lawn. With the revised policy, blankets will be allowed on the lawn.

Jason Rogers, vice-president for administration and university counsel, further clarified the rule, saying that no one will be written up for playing Ultimate Frisbee on the lawn.

“If a group of friends got together and tossed the football or played pick-up, that’s fine,” Rogers said.

Even before the updated policy goes into effect, campus security has acted with a more relaxed interpretation of the ambiguous policy.

“Only verbal warnings have been issued by campus security about common sense issues,” Rogers said, “like staying off the field when it’s closed.”

The largest issue with the current policy was the breakdown of communication over the intent of the policy.

“This was an issue of backlash, and wouldn’t have happened if students had been included,” Morelan said.

After clarifying this current policy, Schmanski hopes that more students will be inspired to take an active role in the policy making process.

“We want to create more forums for students who aren’t elected representatives to have the same voice that we do,” Schmanski said.

In the future, Schmanski said he hopes the administration would be willing to meet more directly with the students when forming policy to avoid another situation like the vague lawn policy.

An email detailing all the changes was sent to the student population on Monday.

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