Q&A with the incoming president and vice president of SGA

Sydney Haworth (right) and Gracie Walls (left), SGA president-elect and vice president-elect, respectively. Photo by Natalie Goo

OLLIE FITZGERALD | STAFF REPORTER | ofitzgerald@butler.edu 

Sydney Haworth, a sophomore speech, language and hearing sciences major, and sophomore biology major Gracie Walls are the newly elected Student Government Association president and vice president, respectively. Out of the 1,271 votes cast, 60.18% were for Haworth and Walls, winning the election for the 2024-25 year. 

THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: How did you originally get involved in SGA? 

SYDNEY HAWORTH: It was just something that I always wanted to do, like student government in high school, [but] I just never ended up having the time for it. I saw during Block Party that [SGA was] going to do a call-out meeting, and then that’s when I [decided], “This is what I’m going to do.” They talked about all the different positions, and the executive secretary sounded like my jam, so I applied and interviewed for it. Thankfully, I got it, and from there, I fell in love with [SGA]. 

GRACIE WALLS: When I was in high school, I did student government, and I was a class vice president. I like to be involved, [and] I like to be able to feel like I’m making a difference on campus. So that was a big thing. I knew that I would be able to have a lot more opportunities by being involved to meet a lot of new people. I’ve really enjoyed it. 

TBC: What made you want to run for president and vice president respectively? 

SH: I feel like [becoming SGA president is] always a goal I’ve had for myself. As I was thinking about my plans for next year, I was like, “What do I want to do to eventually build to this position? There’s really no reason why I shouldn’t go for this if [president] is just my end goal.” This is just something I’ve always wanted to do, so I was like, “You know what, I’m just gonna go ahead and do it [because] why not? It doesn’t hurt.” I think there’s a lot of creative freedom that comes with this role, and that’s what Gracie and I are really excited about. We get to do our own thing and have a lot of freedom with that. 

GW: This year, being a committee chair, I’ve had a lot of leeway to do a lot more. [I’ve met] a lot more faculty and staff members, and [have] grown my leadership position. I was just like, “Let’s go big or go home here.” I really enjoy meeting all these new people. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, just being able to do what I can for the university. 

TBC: You had said your campaign was based on transparency, passion and results. Can you explain more about what that means and how you intend to put it into practice? 

SH: I’ll start with transparency. I think that [being transparent is] something that is really easy to say [rather than follow through on]. The one thing that we want to use to put into practice is an SGA guide. It’s basically going to be a cheat sheet for everyone about SGA because we have pages and pages of bylaws that are really hard to read and get through. [The guide is] so that there’s a cohesive way to understand everything about SGA, so when people are confused [about something, like] how to apply for a grant [or] how to become a student org, they have that information. 

[Also] making sure that we’re not just making that guide, but broadcasting across campus. I know we talked about using our PR board during the debate. That’s why we’re excited to start interviewing for these positions. We do want to be intentional with who we’re choosing in those roles so we’re making sure that the student body is 100% aware of everything that’s going on all the time. 

GW: For passion, I think it’s really important to have somebody in a leadership role who is driven and willing to do whatever it takes to get what the student body wants and needs. If you don’t have people who are passionate in their leadership roles, then it just kind of flows down the line. If you have passionate people at the top, it [also] flows down when you’re going through the legislative and judicial branches. Sydney and I are very determined to accomplish the things that we do. We’re very strong-willed and hard-headed when it comes to getting things done. 

SH: Results. Those are the things that we really want to [do and] make sure that we’re giving back to the student body. Gracie has already done a fantastic job [as] she’s been in contact with Bon Appétit and getting those conversations rolling. We’re excited to start with creating hammock cities, outdoor classrooms and [working on] the Butler dining food plans. There are things that Gracie and I are excited about, like what we talked about in our campaign, but there’s a lot that has potential with our directors and with senators [and] just like everyone that’s going to be involved. 

TBC: You had previously mentioned that there was a stigma around SGA that you’re looking to get rid of. Do you have a specific plan to try and do that? 

SH: That’s one thing we talked about with our board director. We want to have more personal interactions with people who are underrepresented on campus, athletes, diverse individuals, commuters [and all of the] people that might feel like they don’t have a voice in SGA. [We want to try and get] SGA members to make those personal connections with them. We’re starting to just build off of friendship and those kinds of values. 

GW: I think we’re going to be very selective when it comes to our executive board [and] just making sure that we are getting all of that representation in our cabinet, and hearing all of those points of views, opinions and ideas that we might not think of otherwise. 

TBC: Gracie, you had said previously that you want to create transparency in the funding process. Are you able to elaborate on that more? 

GW: One of the things that SGA faces is a lot of backlash when it comes to finances [and] especially the grant process. I feel [that] transparency [comes] with the SGA guide, talking about how much money we get, where that money goes, what it’s used for, how much we get yearly and just giving more updates that can be seen by the student body. I want to give weekly updates to the senate saying, “This is how much we have left in this, in this and this, and this is how much you’ve spent so far.” [It’s important to] be more frugal and more considerate with what we’re spending our money on and explaining to people that nothing we’re doing is ill-willed or intentional to harm anybody or put anybody at a disadvantage. It’s just [about] being more open and honest about the whole process and [about] where our money goes. 

TBC: You had mentioned that you wanted to amplify spaces that are already on campus. Can you elaborate more on what you plan on doing, and what spaces you want to amplify? 

SH: I think there are a lot of great things that go on across campus. [For example,] we were having a conversation with the dean of libraries about how much the library has to offer and that there’s a lot of potential in that space … I think that there’s so much that we could build off of [such as] making Atherton Union a space where students want to come and hang out, just creating a more positive space on campus. I look outside of ResCo, and I’m like, “Oh dang, all these students are having a really great time. Let’s get that everywhere, you know?” I think that little things like that are gonna bring us together and be more cohesive. 

GW: Especially as far as intentionality with programming as well, there’s a lot that goes on and so being really intentional with combining [programming events] and partnering with UPC and other events centers so there are not three different things. Instead, combining it and making it a bigger thing so everyone can come to the one place. A lot of programming can be very overwhelming, and people can get burnt out. 

Back to the spaces, even [amplifying] very specific spaces, like outside of Starbucks, just the dirt where the metal tables are [would be great]. [We want to] amplify that, and just make outdoor spaces and indoor spaces more accessible and more utilized by students. 

TBC: During the debate, you mentioned that you want to try and keep politics out of SGA. Do you have a plan to do so? 

SH: I just genuinely don’t think that politics should be talked about in the slightest in any conversation. It’s not going to be talked about in our cabinet. Those are not conversations that are going to happen. I think [it’s important to create] that mentality with our branch leaders [to make] sure that politics are not being used in a negative aspect as far as when they’re voting on grants or voting on student organizations and things like that. I know that during the [national] election there are going to be heightened emotions [around campus], and so making sure that we’re using our mental health and well-being board to offer those mental health resources to students who are going to be struggling during that time [is going to be important]. It is going to be tense on campus regardless, and there are going to be people that are going to be struggling, so keeping SGA a neutral space, and then also offering all those mental health resources, are just two ways we want to tackle that. 

GW: We’re the government for Butler University. It really shouldn’t have anything to do with national politics and worldwide politics, or anything like that. We’re just doing this for the students, by the students. This just has to do with us here. We know that what’s going on in the world impacts some students, and we take that into consideration with certain events. When it comes to negativity with [politics], we’re going to try to keep that to zero. 

TBC: Throughout previous conversations with students involved within the Diversity Center, it has been mentioned that there is a “rocky relationship” between the DC and SGA. Do you have any plans to repair this bond or even just improve DEI on campus? 

SH: I think that one thing that has been influential for me is being able to work with a lot of DC [organizations] through the grant process [and] trying to advocate for them and being there by their side the whole time they’re going through that process. Gracie and I are setting a precedent that we’re there to help. I think that building our own personal relationships with DC orgs is going to be influential. We’re all human, and we’re just here to help each other. So I think that’s the start to getting just a better relationship overall. 

GW: I’m a Morton-Finney scholar, and I’ve met a lot of my greatest friends through Morton-Finney. I feel like that also gives me the advantage of just being able to hear people’s voices and concerns that are a part of Morton-Finney with me. Being able to hear their sides of things and their perspectives helps me to put myself in their shoes and see where they’re coming from with things can also give me kind of some leeway with fixing those certain relationships. 

Haworth and Walls will be inaugurated as president and vice president on April 15, during Butler’s Student Leadership Banquet


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