By Madeline Tiede
“Attend a Thelmo meeting” was on my SLU Bucket-List until this past Wednesday of my senior year, when I finally decided to cross it off. The hour-long meeting that I sat in on was eye-opening. Thelmo is St. Lawrence literally handing students the reins and a large 50 thousand dollar budget; it seems as though we have endless opportunities to control our experience here. I can say with confidence that few other universities give their students the ability to have such a direct impact on their school.
Today, you have already encountered multiple decisions recently passed by Thelmo. Using Dining Services as an example. Thelmo responded to our feedback and made the following changes: the Pub order baskets (to prevent orders from slipping into a black hole), the Johnson Grab-and-Go (a remedy for lunch crunch woes), the Dana Pasta Sauté line (a way to control the masses), and the New Dorm’s cafe large size (it was originally going to be closet-sized.)
Decisions like these are being made throughout the week in response to our suggestions and survey answers, assuming we did not reflexively immediately delete the emails to clear our clogged inboxes. For example, in response to the recent school-wide survey, our Study Abroad program is getting revamped! Thelmo is currently working with the administration to establish more compatible programs for students to study through. This will lower the amount of students who are denied an abroad experience, and ensure the alternative programs provide students with their current financial assistance and full course credit for the classes they take. Thelmo is also responsible for past resolutions, or amendments made to school policy, such as the extension of the Pass/Fail period from 15 to 25 days, and the protection of the land in front of the Johnson Hall of Science that is left to grow naturally.
Thelmo representatives are constantly at work. “I don’t sleep,” says President Kelly Appenzeller ’15. She explains that the 7-8 p.m. Wednesday gatherings are only the tip of the iceberg, a product of all their efforts and meetings throughout the week. She regrets that students do not realize the full effect that Thelmo has, urging them to check out Thelmo’s social media presences, and read the emails sent–even just the bold print.
When it comes to our student government, too many Saints feel detached. It is easy to regard their suit-clad meetings and discussions behind glass-doors as absolute mysteries. Kelly says, “It should not take a student more than 30 seconds to know exactly what we’re doing.” To ensure this, the students of Thelmo provide many channels for transparency. There are live-tweets sent during meetings and each meeting’s minutes are posted on the Thelmo page. Although I felt under-dressed and conspicuous seated in the back of the conference room, no one questioned my presence. Anyone is fully welcome to sit in on Thelmo anytime.
Here are my three main take-aways:
1. Thelmo has a large generous budget. Secretary of Treasury Alex Kuno’15 opened the meeting stating that there was 46K left in the budget and, if all contingency requests were passed, there would still be 42K left. I witnessed many on-campus groups receive funding for events. If any campus group needs funding, consider going to Thelmo. Few requests are denied as long as students consider “cash per person,” or ensure that the amount they ask for corresponds to the amount of group members who will benefit.
2. The meetings are impressively formal as they follow the conduct of Robert’s Rules of Order. The President sits with a gavel to maintain order, and after students pitch their request they must leave the room while all of the Thelmo members vote to approve or deny it. Each time, although the decisions were obviously unanimous, each representative’s name was systematically called by the Secretary for them to vote yes or no. Each position is taken very seriously.
3.Thelmo is mindful of the student body as a whole. A wide range of clubs and residences have been involved with Thelmo. From the OC’s Fall Fest to the Hub’s Haunted House, Thelmo interacts with various up-coming events on campus.