Student Government Association Discusses Communication

Vice President of Communications and Marketing, Angela Palik Schaeffer, met with the Student Government Association(SGA) on Nov. 5 to discuss Trinity’s communication strategy for the next year. After successful tenures at Johns Hopkins University and then Williams College, Schaeffer assumed the post this January, presiding over a period of unprecedented demands from the department tasked with formulating the college’s message. With salient issues such as the aftermath of Prof. William’s comments and the political discourse surrounding the Trump Administration, creating clear and effective messaging from the Office of the President has proven challenging in the last year. Such a toxic political environment makes this school year “feel different,” according to Schaeffer. Trinna Larsen ’20 pressed Schaeffer, asking why President Joanne Berger-Sweeney only chooses to respond to certain issues and not others. Most notably, the President never issued a formal statement about two separate incidents of vandalism to the Pride House this fall. Deciding which issues to respond to, Schaeffer explained, varies on a “case to case” basis. Particularly in the response to Prof. Williams, President Joanne Berger-Sweeney decided to wait an extra day to issue a statement while some on the communications team felt students deserved her position in real time. The President even turned down an appearance with Tucker Carlson ’92 on Fox News as students addressed the press. Many SGA leaders felt that the administration traffics in a sort of opaqueness or ambiguity that confuses students and relegates clear and concise messaging impossible. With projects like revamping the Trinity College website on the docket for this calendar year, Schaeffer looks to incorporate students to help bridge the information gap between administrators and other members of the community, particularly students. Schaeffer’s team is comprised of 11 people who work closely with the Internet Technology Department to control the College’s internal and external messaging. She also employs a number of students through internships and other positions. External Communications involves running social media, media relations, and the website. Creating a clear and concise website that embodies the spirit of Trinity College is her main goal for the upcoming calendar year. Schaeffer feels that the website needs a “total overhaul.” As the “front door” to the college, she elaborated, it is the first impression that prospective students get when making decisions in the college process. She looks to move the website from Sharepoint to WordPress, a change that she feels will afford departments more agency in controlling the message and general appearance of their pages. Her goal is to work on the website this school year and launch it over the summer.

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