Smiles and waves, St. Mary’s! For those who may not know, I am Maurielle Stewart, your Student Trustee for the 2011-2012 academic year. Some of you may have just read that, nodded, and then pretended like you knew exactly what I do—let me clarify.
In February of 2009, I was selected to be the 2010-2011 Student Trustee. It was the beginning of a 27-month commitment, and I had no idea what I was getting into. Over these past 27 months, I have continued to be a student, and just added on the opportunity to represent all students before the Board of Trustees. I’ve used my position to push for change, to fight for the rights of students, and to better every aspect of the school I could think of. I’ve used the position to gain access to certain areas, to sit on committees I might not otherwise have been invited to, and to get meetings on short notice with school administrators. But now I’m graduating.
A girl I know turned to me and said that this was her last semester, she couldn’t afford to come back. Two days later, a guy stopped me on the path, to ask about financial aid possibilities, saying he was working twenty-hour weeks on top of school and still not making ends meet. Five days later, another person said she was taking twenty-four credits this semester, in an effort to graduate early to avoid additional debt.
Since there are no huge things happening on campus these days, I figured I’d give a news-in-brief style article this week. So here goes nothing.
When I came to St. Mary’s as a freshman (way back in the day when we were still called freshmen), the thought of joining the Student Government Association (SGA) had never crossed my mind. It still hadn’t more than a year later when then-SGA President Sunny Schnitzer suggested I apply to be the Student Trustee.
Allow me to apologize in advance, because most of what you’re about to read will not be good news. There will be a tuition increase this year – likely around six percent for in-state and an equal dollar amount for out-of-state.