With elections for the new student government around the corner, current senators are attempting to go about cementing their legacy with the little time they have left.
“We have tried to open up SGA more to the student body, so part of our campaign last spring was the sense of togetherness,” SGA President Grant Hale said, noting SGA members have monopolized the conversation.
Hale believes students should be brought in that want to get involved, but don’t necessarily want to in order to join SGA.
“Their voice and their opinion is very valid,” he said, plugging town hall meetings scheduled through the rest of the semester. “It’s this idea of special interest groups, that are almost like, but not meant to be, town halls.”
The meetings focus on a number of issues pertinent to the student body now: academics, environmentalism and sustainability, as well as equity and diversity.
“We would have those meetings and try and get students together to see what we know about issues on campus and we want to improve them,” he said. “But rather to figure out what concrete ways we as a student government can better represent [the student body] and help make changes in the university in those areas.”
Hale said original marketing efforts had mixed success. It was hard, he said, to focus so much energy on something that wasn’t showing the success they wanted. Now, SGA is focusing most of its “energy and ideas and marketing” on these think-tank town hall meetings.
“[The meetings] are one of the biggest things we did to get people involved and integrated,” Hale said. “It’s simply because the prospect of the student government holding regular town halls was not something that had been done in the past.”
The other thing the president was extremely proud of was the fact that all the positions for the election board were now full, knowing the elections were coming up after spring break. But positions remain vacant in SGA still, and with no way to fill them other than through elections, Hale said it’s up to the students to get in those open seats.
“They have to go on their own initiative to fill those open seats,” he said.
The reason why some of the seats around the senate have not been filled, he said, is because students face the conundrum of a time crunch coupled with a lack of drive to go about getting the 25 signatures necessary to apply. Students have to get those signatures from their constituencies, something TAMS senator Sven Lohse took a few weeks to get about a month ago.
Vice president and speaker of the senate Barret Cole encouraged students to apply for next semester’s senate run.
“SGA’s top priority is to reach out to students,” she said. “We are always looking for ways to best represent their interests and to do that, we need to know their concerns. The election process allows for two-way engagement between SGA members and constituents, which is always the top priority of the organization.”
Between now and May, SGA is looking to promote smaller student organizations and to reach out to students who are interested in being involved with SGA. A few upcoming events include three town hall meetings on March 2, April 11 and April 26. SGA will also hold a Transfer Appreciation Week event, an election town hall (March 21st), a President and Vice President Debate (March 23rd) and a “Cast your vote Cookout” with GSC (March 29th).
The Student Government Association’s office is located in Union 344 and they are a multi-purpose organization that not only helps get students funding for conferences or lectures, but also hosts events around the university and promote student organization programs.
Applications for SGA involvement, both senators, and president/vice president are open until March 3 at 5 p.m.
Featured Image: At the beginning of the SGA Senate meeting on Wednesday, Feb 15, College of Arts and Sciences Senator Misaki Collins gives a presentation about the benefits and process of becoming an Eagle Ambassador. Katie Jenkins