Photo by Lauren Gdowski.
RYANN BAHNLINE | NEWS CO-EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Student Government Association (SGA) has been working to fulfill promises made at the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year. The executive branch is working on adding a food station to the Health and Recreation Center (HRC) and bringing back the forgotten “Flip the Script” event. The judicial branch is tabling to increase voter turnout and the legislative branch looks to make the Reilly Room more accessible and the student organization endorsement and grant processes more transparent.
Executive branch: Irwin programming, HRC food station, “Flip the Script”
Senior psychology major Katie Stanley serves as SGA president. Stanley said, as president, she serves as the chief advocate for the student body because she was elected into the position by her peers.
“I represent the Student Government Association in all places where students’ voices need to be heard,” Stanley said.
Marianna Green, a sophomore international business and Spanish double major, is the director of student engagement. Green has put feedback forms together after every SGA-hosted tabling event, containing valuable data to pass back to the appropriate faculty and staff outside of SGA.
A “Bulldog Study Habits” tabling event was held to assess how and where students study. Through survey responses gathered at this event, SGA found that Irwin Library is the most popular study space.
“We were able to give a lot of really helpful information to [Irwin] to help hopefully encourage [the library] to maybe start [its own] programming,” Stanley said.
Stanley shared about some of the long-term projects SGA has been working on — including the HRC renovations and the Uber program.
In her campaign, Stanley highlighted a goal to renovate the HRC by building another food service station that mimics Butler Brew — which resides in Dugan Hall.
Green held another tabling event for the HRC specifically. Survey responses gathered from that event found a “constant request for a grab-and-go fuel station.” The responses were given to the director of the HRC after the tabling, and SGA is waiting on Bon Appétit to finalize details before moving forward.
Another project on the books for SGA is revitalizing the tradition of the “Flip the Script” event held in Atherton.
“Prior to COVID, there was a tradition where faculty and staff would take over Atherton Union at 9:00 p.m.,” Stanley said. “They would serve late-night breakfast on the first night of finals in both fall and spring semesters. It’s a really great dynamic environment, and it really builds that sense of community that I honestly think we’re kind of lacking.”
Stanley said she has talked to Dr. Frank Ross, vice president of student affairs, and they are both on board with bringing back this forgotten event. This year “Flip the Script” will be on Monday, Dec. 11, with specific timing of the event to come.
Another goal of Stanley’s campaign was to create a director of finance and facilities position within SGA. This position has been filled by Brian Galang, a junior finance and applied business technology double major. Galang has been overseeing the way that SGA members are clocking in and out, as well as ensuring that the association’s budget is being spent on things that positively affect the community.
Throughout all of these initiatives, Stanley wants students to know that she is available to help with questions or needs of the students.
“I also just want people to know that I probably have an answer for you,” Stanley said. “[If] I don’t have an answer, I will find out and I’ll get it to you. And I will make sure that it happens … We’d love students to have any sort of feedback on what we can do to kind of be more transparent.”
Stanley feels strongly about communication — both internally within the organization and externally. She holds office hours in the SGA office from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in AU100 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Judicial branch: Voter outreach
With elections for every branch of SGA sneaking up in the spring, the judicial branch has been looking to increase voter outreach and engage all of the student body in elections.
Junior political science major Kate Rashevich serves on the judicial branch as the justice of elections as well as the chair of the election oversight committee.
As the justice of elections, Rashevich rewrites, adjusts and looks over the election guidelines that are posted each year.
“Those guidelines are the guidelines for the candidates who go through elections,” Rashevich said. “ … They are revised in the fall for each spring election to cater to the presidential election, as well as the senatorial one.”
The judicial branch is relatively new in SGA, as they have only had four chief justices. That being said, one of the main goals Rashevich identified was to put all the internal rules and regulations in actual writing.
“We went through all the [governing] documents, and we’ve made sure that all of the roles of people in student government are being followed and those needs are being met,” Rashevich said. “We make sure that people are basically going to everything that they’re supposed to, that senators are doing what they’re supposed to do, et cetera.”
One of the biggest issues that the branch sees during elections is reaching the actual demographic of the campus. In the spring 2023 election, 1,697 students voted in the election, which Rashevich said is a significant increase in student turnout from previous years. However, there is a certain group who makes up the majority of those numbers.
“One of my main concerns is that it is mostly [first-years] who are very interested in the elections,” Rashevich said. “Typically the senatorial elections for the [first-years] are the ones that target the most votes, at least out of the senate.”
Rashevich said that although SGA knows how many people vote in each election, they do not know the thought process that goes behind why people vote. On Oct. 31, the election oversight committee put on a tabling event to promote voting engagement on campus.
During the event, Rashevich had a QR code that led to a survey about what students do or do not know about SGA elections.
“Promoting that there are resources [that allow students to] participate in these elections is going to garner a larger outreach of people in the spring,” Rashevich said. “At a small school with a student government, it should be able to reach a larger demographic … I feel it’s very doable.”
Blurbs about each candidate in the presidential election are posted on the SGA website each spring to give students a look into the pillars upon which they are running.
Legislative branch: Reilly Room stage, student organization endorsement
The SGA senate — which comprises 20 senators who represent academic classes and colleges on campus — has a six-person leadership team: a speaker of the senate and five chair leaders.
Senior economics major AJ Boes serves as the speaker of the senate. The senate holds meetings in the Reilly Room in Atherton Union; Boes and the SGA university life committee are working to improve the accessibility of the stage located in the space.
“The stage in there is extremely inaccessible,” Boes said. “I’ve assigned [the university life committee] the task of attempting to either get a new stage or revise the current stage in [the Reilly Room] for there to be an ADA-compliant ramp.”
Boes said this is his main objective for the year, but he is also looking at expanding the area online for potential student organizations to see what stage their endorsement is at in the approval process. Boes served as the student activities committee chairman his junior year, therefore he has experience with the student organization endorsement process.
“Last year [as committee chairman], I received a lot of emails [from students] about where the student org was sitting at in the approval process,” Boes said. “I’m definitely wanting to increase transparency on that end.”
Students have to be endorsed as a student organization before they can receive grants from SGA. Requirements and steps for endorsement, as well as grant applications, are on the legislative branch’s website.
A list of all the SGA legislative sessions for the fall 2023 semester is on the SGA website. Students are encouraged to attend these meetings and can see the agenda for meetings beforehand. Additionally, by emailing email@example.com, students can request senate meeting minutes and recordings.
SGA has been working diligently to fulfill the promises they made to the student body, as well as some brand new initiatives. All three branches of SGA hold office hours in AU100 for any students to talk about concerns they may have. Additional contact information can be found on the SGA website.