The fifth annual Westfield Student State of the Campus Address took place on Tuesday, Feb. 9 with Student Government president Evelyn Dina stepping up to the podium at Dever Stage to speak to the achievements and advancements in the last year.
The address began with Student Trustee, Justin Connolly, introducing the Executive Council of Student Government seated behind the podium, and calling forward Dina to the podium. Dina walked up to the podium to great applause from the over half-filled auditorium. She began her speech by recognizing Peter D. Mazza, the man whom the student government room is named after. Mazza stood and received a round of applause from the audience.
Following this recognition, Dina continued by acknowledging the new Westfield State University president, Dr. Ramon Torrecilha, and the former president, Dr. Elizabeth Preston, to which the crowd applauded.
Dina carried on and acknowledged that over $220,000 worth of scholarships was delegated to both current and incoming students of Westfield, a record high. Furthermore, Professor Emerita Catherine Dower donated a record $1 million towards the development of a performing arts center located in Juniper Park, which will be renamed the Catherine Dower Center for Performing and Fine Arts in her honor.
On the topic of buildings, Dina announced that the construction of the new science building is on time, on budget, and will be opened at the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester. Also mentioned was the progress of the physician’s assistant program coming to Westfield State, which will be the first public PA program in New England.
Dina transitioned to the topic of studying abroad and the University’s impending expansion of the abroad program, with 13 countries having student representation on campus. Moreover, eight students had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii as part of a national student exchange program.
Dina then mentioned U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s visit to campus, one of the highlights of the current semester. Senator Warren spoke on the increase in average student debts and college costs, as well as her new #InTheRed campaign aimed towards making college more affordable for all.
The speech drew a large number of people throughout the campus, and Dina highlighted the fact that this was the first visit by a U.S. senator to the University since 1994.
Dina then focused in on the counseling center, mentioning that over 900 students are currently scheduling appointments and over 100 are being placed on a waiting list. Dina encouraged more awareness for the counseling center. She emphasized that it is a great resource for students, but it is a bit too small to accommodate the rising student demand.
Subsequently, Dina discussed the progress and achievements of the Diversity Inclusion and Student Activities organization on campus, commonly referred to as DISA. The organization cosponsored Family Day, held early in the fall semester, which brought in over 1,300 people.
The implementation of nine Living and Learning Communities, which allow students with similar interests to live in the same general area in a residence hall, was then brought up. These LLCs were regarded as a success, with more to be added in the near future.
In regards to residential life, a Skyfactor survey was sent out to all residential students to collect data pertaining to residence halls, RAs, and more.
Dina noted that over 50 percent of residential students filled out this survey, with the general consensus being that the Westfield campus is considered safe.
The Smith-Cup-leading Westfield State athletics department was then mentioned, as the winners of five of the last 10 Smith Cups are currently leading in the 15-sport standings. Westfield State athletics currently owns 59 out of a possible 76 points in this race.
Dina followed this with praise for the annual Turkey Drive, one of the more recent student campaigns out of SGA, which was a great success this year. Nearly 150 turkeys were donated to the Westfield branch of the Salvation Army for families in need because of this fundraiser.
Dina also noted that there was great success in monthly blood drives and the annual Stuff a Cruiser program, both of which had significant SGA involvement.
Proceeding with SGAevents, Dina stated that the Department of Academic Affairs provided $15,000 to cover supplemental travel costs for about 150 students so they could attend conferences and events outside of campus.
Additionally, Dina stated that students who worked on the #SaveTheGlobe campaign helped raise over $12,000 towards getting a new globe forcampus. The campaign is hopeful in getting a new globe by commencement. Dina wrapped up her main topics by highlighting more student-run organizations on campus such as the Musical Theatre Guild, the Black Student Union, MASSPIRG, the Campus Activities Board, and the “Make Your Mark” campaign encouraging current University seniors to make a lasting impression in their final months on campus.
The address ended with Dina thanking the crowd and her parents for coming, finishing nearly in tears as she received a standing ovation from the crowd.
The event was well received by students.
“This is always such a great and important eventfor our campus. For it is where we are able to celebrate the monumental accomplishments that our fellow peers have achieved this year.
President Dina spoke very highly and eloquently for our Westfield State and I was honored that I was able to be a part of this great tradition,” Trustee Connolly said after the event.