Students vote for change

Students hope to see the new SGA administration make changes on campus. Collegian file photo. 

GABI MORANDO | ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR | gmorando@butler.edu

Results of the 2022-23 Student Government Association elections for president, vice president and the 18 open Senate seats will be announced tomorrow, Feb. 23. While some students have concerns with SGA’s transparency, they are hopeful to elect officials that will not only be open, but committed to serving their needs across campus. 

Campaigning for SGA positions began Feb. 13 with many senators and both presidential campaigns creating Instagram accounts to highlight their goals if elected. Macy Cansdale, sophomore youth and community development major, said although she likes seeing what candidates are passionate about, she questions their ability to follow through on their word.

“I don’t want to just vote for someone because they’re making all these big claims and be like ‘Oh that’d be so awesome’ but then not have them follow through,” Cansdale said.

SGA states on their website they are committed to improving the student experience while maintaining close relations with faculty, staff and administration. SGA worked this past year to address concerns regarding mental health, student advocacy and increasing outreach to their constituents. 

First-year music education major Sean Paree-Huff admitted to not knowing too much about SGA, but said that he wants to see representatives equally concerned with all students, no matter what college they’re in. 

“Each college has their own separate things that they need, and it doesn’t always seem like some of like the requirements for clubs and that kind of thing are met,” Paree-Huff said. “It feels like [SGA] is very focused on specific colleges getting work, where other ones struggle to get like … enough recognition in different things.”

Kiara Somerville, sophomore electrical engineering and economics double major, said she is not as concerned with SGA being equitable across the colleges as she is with SGA’s commitment to diversity. Somerville said that along with transparency, she has had concerns with SGA’s lack of involvement in the Diversity Center in the past. 

“A big thing I want to see is a focus on like diversity and inclusion, as well as like reaching out to student organizations in the Diversity Center,” Somerville said. “In the past it just doesn’t feel like [diversity] has been any kind of central focus, and I would like it to be more of a focus. Especially as someone who spends a lot of time in the Diversity Center, it feels like sometimes those organizations just kind of get looked over.” 

SGA has implemented resources throughout the past year to try and address students’ mental health concerns. Wanting more, however, Joseph Price, junior philosophy and psychology double major, feels that SGA lacks a commitment to mental health and has failed to provide “meaningful” mental health resources to students. 

Price said rather than adding another BUBeWell weekend to the calendar, for example, SGA could direct some of their funding to getting another therapist in Counseling and Consultation Services, CCS

“As a student we see [Butler] build like a multimillion dollar building like Dugan Hall … and then these like fundamental important resources like CCS are frankly disgustingly underfunded,” Price said. “If SGA is going to do anything, I think that that’s the most important thing for them to focus on is having these mental health resources on campus … We can have the best, most flourishing college campus with all these activities and all these wonderful teachers, but like if you’re going to spend your time here so depressed that you can’t leave your room, then you can’t take advantage of all of that and it’s almost for nothing.” 

Echoing Price, junior vocal music education major Ethan Schopp said paying attention to mental health is crucial as COVID-19 continues to redefine normalcy on campus. 

“I think especially just because of how unprecedented this semester is, mental health is more important than ever,” Schopp said. “The fact that even my teachers [were] talking to me saying, ‘Doesn’t it feel like we’ve been here for like months already’ in [the second] week of classes, speaks to how badly we really need [mental health] addressed.”

The overarching concern students share about SGA is a lack of transparency. Students are unsure of the role SGA plays on campus and what they actually accomplish while in office. 

Somerville named transparency as being one of the biggest things she wants to see changed in SGA. Not only wanting an increase in transparency, Somerville also sees the need for more direct communication with students across campus.

“It’s been kind of hard to understand what’s going on or how things are running,” Somerville said. “I feel like I’ve found out about SGA stuff more through like organizations or people as opposed to directly from SGA.”

Paree-Huff added that even knowing someone in SGA, he still thinks SGA could be better about openly communicating with students.

“There’s definitely not a lot of communication that I see personally,” Paree-Huff said. “Luckily enough I’m close with one of the senators, so I know some stuff from there, but I don’t see things from SGA very much so it would be nice to know more like what they’re actually doing for us … there’s definitely not a lot going on the transparency side.” 

Price said that he could not name a single thing SGA has done this year. Not wanting to necessarily be cynical of the organization, Price said he wishes information about SGA was more readily available. 

With concerns of the motivations and goals behind SGA, Price hopes that the new administration takes office for the right reasons. 

“I’m gonna be honest I don’t really know anything about SGA and that’s not really for lack of paying attention,” Price said. “It seems like [representatives] take the position just to put it on a resume almost, and nothing substantial actually changes for the student body … if you’re gonna campaign for a position that has access to so many resources, you have a moral responsibility and an ethical responsibility to take care of your constituents and do things that actually benefit the people on campus in a meaningful way.” 

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