SGA hosts conference for regional schools

Lisa DiTuro

One hundred and sixty-four students from 26 colleges, including 10 students from the University and six from as far away as Cardinal Strict in Wisconsin, attended the American Student Government Association’s Northeast Student Government Training Conference held in Bartley Hall on March 12 and 13.

SGA chief of staff, senior Frank Brogna, obtained ASGA membership for the University last March. This year, Brogna initiated an effort to host an ASGA conference.

Colleges all over the Northeast gathered for an intense day of training and consulting on how to improve and enhance their student governments.

The University served as the host and model of a student government organization at the conference, which began with a speech by the University’s student body president, Joe Breslin.

Also in attendance were vice president Steve Cronin and Executive Aide Jon Ambrose.

“We were able to establish all kinds of connections, through networking not only with the conference speakers, but also with peers across the Northeast,” Ambrose said.

“We now can go to them for ideas on problems we are experiencing, like how to get the most out of a small budget.”

The conference speakers included ASGA directors who all also hold professional positions outside of their work with the association.

One speaker was Butch Oxendine, executive director of ASGA.

“He knows what he’s doing and the best way to go about doing it, ” Cronin said.

“There was so much to learn just from talking to him.”

Students attended workshops on different topics, such as how to improve relations with the administration, how to create a strong website, how to leave a lasting legacy and how to represent all students.

“The disconnection between the student body and the SGA is another topic that kept coming up across the board,” Cronin said.

“We love when we get students knocking down the door expressing their concerns with issues they are upset about. It’s our job to help.”

Currently the big projects on the SGA’s agenda are the renaming and beautification of the Aldwyn Path that connects Main campus to South campus and the installation of a speaker system outside the Oreo in early April.

The system will enable clubs and organizations to broadcast their messages without having to pay for a DJ or sound system out of their own pockets.

Freshman Ryan Bendinelli was appointed to be Villanova’s direct liasion to ASGA and was one of the main facilitators in planning and running the conference.

In a move by Bendinelli and Brogna the University pushed to extend the conference to the entire Northeast instead of just limiting it to the Pennsylvannia schools.

Ambrose said the conference helped also bring like-minded people together.

“The energy was great,” Cronin said. “Everyone was pumped about how to better their schools.”

According to Bendinelli, the conference will serve as a model for four more upcoming ASGA conferences in Florida and Washington, D.C.