Belmont’s Student Government Association has begun taking legislative action to combat the revised lawn policy that severely restricts student activity on the grounds.
The revised edition of the Bruin Guide, Belmont’s Code of Conduct was emailed to students in early January. On page 65, under “Lawns and Grounds” it states that “organized team sports play is prohibited on the lawn,” and “tarps or other ground covers shall not be placed on the lawn for any reason.” This means that Spikeball, Ultimate Frisbee and even putting out a blanket on McWhorter Lawn are now potentially illegal.
“When you start to tell students you can’t lay a blanket on the lawn, that affects 7,000 people,” said SGA Representative Skyler Schmanski
SGA originally became aware of the policy change when sophomore Dalton Hughes posted the policy on Facebook Jan. 10. After gaining attention from his friends, other students began posting about the policy. Not only were students complaining about the actual policy, but also the breakdown of communication between students and the administration over the implementation of the rule change.
Students like Hughes felt as if the administration had not adequately heard their voices when it crafted this policy.
SGA eventually took notice of the student outrage and started crafting its own legislation to combat the issue. Director of Campus Outreach for SGA, Jeanette Morelan said that most of the complaints were over social media, so SGA in turn used Facebook to funnel student feelings toward fixing the policy.
We asked ourselves “what can do to take this discontent” and take them directly to the administration, said Morelan.
They created an online survey and began sharing it directly to students. The survey asked questions about how the students felt about the lawn policy and what they would like to see changed. The survey began to spread on social media just as the initial outrage over the policy had. Students shared the survey link on their personal pages and sent it out to their friends.
“Within three days we had over 400 respondents,” said Morelan.
While SGA has kept the survey results under wraps, the Chair of Policy Review Skyler Schmanski has begun writing a resolution that will be presented to Congress with the results in mind. The largest issue that SGA seems to have with the policy is the lack of communication between the administration and the students.
“Hopefully this resolution will help build a bridge between the administration and the student body,” said Schmanski.
SGA hopes it can become more of a voice for students to the administration. SGA is working with Student Affairs to make sure the communication breakdown students experienced with the lawn policy does not happen again.
“This is not an isolated incident and will happen again if nothing is done,” said Schmanski.
The lack of communication not only extends from the administration to the students, but also from upper levels of administration to lower levels.
“When we came to lower levels of the administration, we were actually informing them of this policy because it’s buried,” said Schmanski
To help build the bridges between the administration and the student body, SGA has had students come and film video testimonials concerning their feelings about the lawn policy that will be presented to Student Activities, which communicated the policy to students. This is the most the student body has ever been mobilized, according to Schmanski. He said that SGA could funnel its outrage and motivation into a tangible change in policy.
Students like Hughes feel like SGA is their best hope to have their concerns addressed. But if the administration does not listen to the student body on this issue, he sees a potential breakdown in confidence.
“Students are going to end up losing a lot of trust in the administration,” Hughes said.
The resolution will come to a vote in an upcoming Congress meeting. Today Cabinet members are meeting with administration to discuss possible changes to the recent lawn policy.