Cardona’s First Initiatives

With President Angelina Cardona ‘11 and Vice-President Kelsei Wharton ’12 now occupying the ASSU Executive office in Old Union, a new package of initiatives is being readied for the coming year. Cardona and Wharton recently appointed their cabinet and have already begun spearheading next year’s projects.

Cross-listing Courses

Cardona met with the Office of the Registrar last week to discuss possible cross-listing of courses with particular themes. Cross-listing allows students to choose which of two course names they want to appear on their university transcript.

Names of courses covering topics related to homosexuality would receive a second, more general listing that hides the specific nature of the course. This change enables gay students to take “courses that could possibly out them to a future employer or to their own family…if they’re not in a place where they’re willing to share that information,” Cardona said.

The ASSU Executive will convene a committee of student leaders to identify classes that could potentially receive the second course title. The executive plan to then approach professors to develop an alternative name and then have the registrar provide the option to change the course title in Axess.

Residential Assistant Diversity Training

The Cardona/Wharton administration also has plans to reform the Residential Assistant (RA) training curriculum.  Cardona, who is currently an RA in Trancos, would make diversity training a much more important part of a curriculum that she describes as, “extremely lacking in just a solid knowledge base on a widespread amount of issues.”

Currently, RAs receive only one three-hour diversity workshop. “Some RAs…don’t know what it means to be a transgender student,” she stated, “and how do you expect an RA to connect or understand kind of what a person is going through if they don’t even know what the definition of their situation is?”

The new training would apply to all classification methods, including political ideology. If this program achieves the intended results, “any individual could go and knock on their RA’s door… and just feel comfortable,” said Cardona. The policy changes would take the form of multiple diversity workshops and an increase in the dissemination of diversity literature to RA trainees.

Cardona is also planning to institute “in-service training” for RAs. New RAs would be required to attend a training workshop every month. In-service workshops would focus on diversity issues as well as RA specific issues.

The new ASSU Executive also mentioned tailoring the RA curriculum in order to properly serve different sections of the student body. She recalled her experience of being the only female on an all-male, all-freshman floor in Trancos:  “I think some of the things that I’ve faced this year are unique to being in that position,” she stated. The in-service training would focus on these specific aspects of the RA experience.

Also in planning stages is a reformation of the RA job review process. Cardona spoke of making RAs directly accountable to their Resident Fellows. The RFs would evaluate RAs and give them feedback on their successes. “It’s a job, so there should be job performance and improvement there,” she stated.

Wellness Initiatives

Cardona and Wharton appointed Taylor Winfield ’13 as the new Chair of Health and Wellness. Winfield plans to create a happiness coalition to spread happiness through social networks and to expand wellness programming through the wellness room.

Winfield also emphasized a special seminar during New Student Orientation that would teach guided meditation and breathing techniques, more non-alcohol based social programming, and the creation of peer wellness guides who can direct students on the path to wellness without the attached stigma of “counseling.”

When asked about the criticism of the wellness room Winfield responded, “I understand why people are upset; I’m a little upset too.” With a new advertising campaign and more speakers and events with relevance to students, Winfield hopes to turn the wellness room into the “locus for happiness and well-being” on campus.

Winfield has not yet addressed the financial situation of the wellness room or wellness initiatives of the ASSU Executive. “I think it’s a little too soon for me to speak about this,” she stated, but added about wellness funding, “I would hope to see an increase in the next year.”

By the time she leaves Stanford, Winfield dreams of a wellness center on campus. She envisions a building that provides space for things like an organic cafe, yoga studio, meditation and study rooms, and office space for nutritionists and peer wellness guides.

This “hub of happiness and wellness,” as Winfield referred to it, would also be a central location for non-alcohol based programming on campus.

To test demand for the center, Winfield plans a wellness weekend at the end of the next school year in which Old Union will be outfitted with the services of a prospective wellness center. Student demand and input will be gathered after the weekend.

Despite questions concerning low demand for wellness initiatives on campus, Winfield believes many students will utilize the center. The awareness of wellness, she believes, will see a rise comparable to that of sustainability’s rise in recent years.

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