On Nov. 2, Student Government announced that they are opening positions on four different Ad Hoc Sub-Committees that will work within the Student Life and Residential Committee.
“The point of these sub-committees is to have someone fully control these issues, be fully invested in these issues, be responsible and be reactive,” Student Body Vice President Branden Taylor said. Jeffrey Kung, the Director of the Student Life and Residential Committee, will oversee all four sub-committees.
“Specifically in the SLR department, there is a great opportunity to form Ad Hoc Sub-Committees,” Kung said. “Sometimes these committees disappear at the end of the year, but we want to keep them stable and structured with the support of Student Government.”
Kung explained that the new Student Government has been working on these initiatives during the beginning of the semester, but wanted to restructure the organization of Student Government first. The Student Life and Residence Sub-Committee and the Career and Development Sub-Committee are new, while the Cafeteria and Health and Wellness Sub-Committees are reestablished initiatives.
“Dining has always been kind of an issue at NYU Shanghai,” Kung said, with regard to the reasoning behind the renewal of the Ad Hoc Cafeteria Sub-Committee. “Vendors are thinking of a long-term plan and not getting the urgency of short-term and we’re trying to work on that.” Kung explained that Student Government will continue the work of an existing group of students, which had meetings with Chartwells, NYU Shanghai’s current contractor for cafeteria services. Student Government members were unable to attend these meetings due to scheduling conflicts.
Sophomore Haley Sadoff has been a member of this student-led group, organized by NYU Shanghai Professor Yifei Li at the request of the school. The group has met with the B1 cafeteria manager, as well as the regional director of Chartwells. “We had a really big struggle with the cafeteria management taking student requests seriously,” Sadoff said, noting that Professor Li’s presence was the driving factor for that change.
The recent Student Government initiative took Sadoff by surprise. “I wish student government had just had a representative join us so that it’s not redundant, but we realize their ability to send out school-wide surveys means they could do a great job, so we’re happy they’re taking on this responsibility,” Sadoff commented. She also added that there is a suggestion box that Chartwells has in the cafeteria that any community member can add their individual recommendations to.
The Ad Hoc Health and Wellness Sub-Committee was also previously part of Student Government. “Last year they focused heavily on mental heath,” Kung said. “That was a really good idea as a lot of international students are abroad, things can come up and we can collaborate with Health and Wellness to bring awareness. They’re professionals, we’re not experts in health, but they need to know the problems.”
Sophomore Bishka Zareen Chand was a member of the group and is excited that the project is starting again after the Mental Health Forum last spring. “We managed to pull off the town hall meeting, which had a lot of students come, about 70,” Chand said, noting that the anonymous responses and a live recording of the meeting were sent to Dean of Students Charlene Visconti and Assistant Dean of Students David Pe.
“Health and Wellness has changed. They’ve added new measures for protection of privacy by redesigning the space and a vending machine for female hygiene products – but that hasn’t showed up yet,” Chand added. As advice for the new sub-committee, Chand said, “they need to gather feedback from students on the little changes that have been made and then they need to push for what they want.”
The Ad Hoc Student Life and Residence Sub-Committee will focus on improving the environment at NYU Shanghai by responding to concerns from students. “This sub-committee allows SLR to focus on solving problems and creating events and allows the committee itself to step away from solving problems and better the school,” Kung said, adding that he hopes this group will host more inter-class activities.
The Ad Hoc Career and Development Sub-Committee is the final addition to the SLR Committee. “We’re trying to bring in more international companies and have more information sessions with companies that are interested in us,” Kung said. He hopes that this group will liaise with CDC in New York and Abu Dhabi, as well as collect student feedback.
Both Sadoff and Chand noted that they wished Student Government had begun these Ad Hoc Sub-Committees sooner. “Since student government didn’t put something together at the beginning of this semester for the new cafeteria supplier, there were almost no vegan options for a while,” Sadoff said with regard to the creation of the unofficial group. “We heard Student Government was going to do something, but they didn’t, so in the meantime we put together a group of students,” Sadoff continued, explaining that this group is responsible for the addition of the vegan buffet.
Chand expressed concerns about the formation of these Ad Hoc Sub-Committees two months into the semester, although she is still supportive of the initiative. “At this point of the year, students are all at the point where they’ve discovered a lot of things aren’t available and the pressure of living in China and attending NYU Shanghai has already got to them, so they’re less inclined to participate and play an active role,” Chand said, noting that by the time the Ad Hoc Sub-Committee got necessary feedback from students, finals will have started, followed by winter break.
This article was written by Allison Chesky. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of NYU Shanghai